Marina to review use of lifejackets for vessels plying the Davao-Samal route

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 May) – The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is willing to review its policies regarding vessels plying the Davao-Samal route on the memorandum circular guiding the use of lifejackets.

However, Marina regional director Felisa Orongan said it would be up to the central office whether to approve the request of boat operators here to relax the policy on lifejackets.

Orongan was referring to Memorandum Circular 176 which mandates the holding of life vests for passengers on board motorized bancas and similar water transport carrying passengers.

An older memorandum only made life vests accessible to passengers.

“As of now, there have been no amendments to the [memorandum order],” Orongan said. “We will have to implement the memorandum to the letter.”

Orongan said, however, that they would support any position papers submitted by the operators to the city council committee on peace and public safety.

The issue was raised during the committee hearing Wednesday by the committee with representatives from the DavSam, Mae West, Sta. Ana Wharf, and other motorboat operators for vessels crossing the Davao Gulf to and from Samal.

Mario Reta, whose boats dock at the Sta. Ana wharf, argued to the councilors and to representatives of Marina and the Philippine Coast Guard that the “short” trips to and from Samal negated the need for the wearing or holding of the lifejackets.

He said that for some boats, crossing towards Samal takes only 5 to 10 minutes.

Boat operators here asked the agency to “relax” the rules because of the relatively short trip.

Orongan said she was not sure whether other vessels in other regions also relaxed their rules because of the distance.

She added that the regional office here received an alert from the central office to strictly implement the memorandum during the days leading to the Holy Week early this summer.

The regional director said Reta should itemize the rationale behind the proposed relaxation of the rules before the Marina office here could forward the request to the central office.

With the memorandum circular, ship owners and operators face penalties ranging from P200 to P1,000 per passenger found without lifejackets.

The memo also threatens the cancellation of the certificate of public convenience as well as the Professional Regulations Commission license of the operator.