The rampant operation of unregistered motorboats ferrying tourists toÂ several destinations in the waters off Panglao continues to openly defy authorities despite the issuance of violation tickets by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
PCG Lieutenant Commander Benjie Quinisio admitted that the undermanned personnel of the PCG Bohol District is helpless in enforcing the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) licensing, safety and environmental rules and regulations.
The blatant operation of unregistered pumpboats in Panglao surfaced during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committee of the whole probe on the freak diving accident last week that claimed the life of a Dallas Police Officer.
According to PCG officers, the sheer numbers of these habal-habal seacrafts (sea taxis) apparently are operating under a “modus operandi” arrangement with some unscrupulous local government officials, according to the PCG.
Worse, PCG officers assigned in Panglao told DYRD Balita that operators of the unregistered motorboats “became verbally disrespectful” towards the PCG officers.
Recent clampdowns on their illegal operations were met with open resistance with operators ignoring citation violation tickets issued by the PCG, according to officers, on condition of anonymity.
Gale warning advisories from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration are often disregarded by these operators taking advantage of the shorthanded PCG personnel.
Two PCG officers who were too strict in the implementation of the MARINA regulations found to their humiliation their motorcycle tires deliberately deflated by sharp and pointed objects.
The hearing, presided by Tourism Committee chairperson Board Member Kristine Alexei TutorÂ was conducted on Thursday, August 11, 2016 at the SP conference hall.
The alarming rise in the number of unregistered motorboats has put on the line the safety of tourists in the absence of safety checks on the vessels amid the backdrop of an unregistered speedboat owned by Oceanholic Diving Center that allegedly strayed in an area where divers were present causing serious head and body injuries of two American citizens.
Hans Adrian Campbell of the Dallas Police Department and Chriselyn Bedolido, a US registered nurse whose parents hail from Tagbilaran City were in a Discover Scuba Diving Experience Course offered by Piratas Diving Center off the shallow seawaters of Dulho when the gory accident happened.
Campbell died on August 4, 2016 on the day he was to marry Bedolido while his diving buddy, Norman Zheng survived the tragic incident.
Calls for the strict implementation of regulations on the registration of seacrafts ferrying tourists to ensure the safety of passengers.
Tutor told the media that the committee will report the findings that will determine the accountability of those involved in the incident and will propose an ordinance to prevent the recurrence of such accidents. (Chito M. Visarra)