The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Panglao has started to impound motorized bancas with no registration from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and business permits from the town’s local government.
PCG substation commander Petty Officer First Class Jay Pascua told the Chronicle that five unregistered motorboats which ferry passengers including tourists have been grounded since Monday.
“We conducted a series of meetings and dialogue together with the Panglao police, tourist police and Bantay Dagat then we started making arrests on Monday,” said Pascua in Cebuano and English.
According to Pascua, the impounded motorboats will only be released after operators secure and present business permits and MARINA documents.
“The boats are detained in Poblacion 1 in Panglao and guarded by Bantay Dagat personnel,” he said.
The PCG in its first week of implementing the campaign focused their operations near Alona Beach in Barangay Tawala where “colurum” boats usually operate.
Most of these motorized bancas are rented by tourists for island hopping, dolphin watching, snorkeling and other water activities.
Based on a Municipal Tourism Office data, at least 200 motorboats ply routes and ferry tourists at the Alona area in Panglao but only 48 are considered legal and have secured certificates of public convenience from MARINA.
Pascua noted that they have already given boat operators enough time to secure necessary documents while the Panglao LGU had also assisted in the campaign through the launch of a mobile registration.
According to the PCG official, their personnel will not stop making arrests until the longstanding problem on rampant operation of illegal bancas is resolved.
Pascua also said that they have adequate equipment to carry out operations against the slew of unregistered boats in Panglao.
“We have two boats, enough firearms, life jackets for us to properly respond to untoward incidents,” he said. (Allen Doydora)