24 OCTOBER 2019, MANILA—The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has put all ports nationwide under heightened alert, a week before the expected exodus of passengers brought about by the school semester break and the celebration of the All Saints’ Day.
The heightened alert will go on until November 10.
According to PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago, the move is to ensure the safety and security of all passengers at the ports and at the same time maintain order in port operations.
“Our ports will be very busy in the coming days and this early, we are putting in place various measures to guarantee that ports will remain fully functional, reliable and convenient for the sea-traveling public,” Santiago added.
“We are likewise discouraging the overbooking of vessels, which oftentimes result in more delays in vessel turnaround time,” Santiago stressed.
“This is part of the culture of safety, security, and comfort being implemented by the agency in all its ports nationwide without any exemptions,” Santiago added.
He likewise directed all PMOs to intensify efforts in all Malasakit Help Desks (MHDs) in compliance with the order issued by the Department of Transportation relative to the conduct of “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2019.
Santiago also added that the deployment of the 80 newly graduated port police officers earlier this week to augment the current PPA port police force will come in handy in the implementation of safety and security procedures being implemented.
The observance of All Saint’s Day is the third biggest for PPA in terms of the surge in the volume of passengers next to Christmas and the school summer break.
At this time, passengers in ports like Batangas, Mindoro, Bicol, Surigao, Iloilo, Dumaguete, among others, surge by more than 30% daily for the entire duration of the break.
This is also the time where unscrupulous individuals take advantage of unsuspecting sea-going passengers being lured to buying additional insurance cover for their trip and other items non-essential to their voyage.
The influx of passengers is also making ports more susceptible to attacks from lawless elements particularly in areas where the threat of terror is high.
Among the procedures being implemented include the continuing visibility of PPA Police and security guards within the port area and Passenger Terminal Buildings (PTBs) as well as the provision of well ventilated PTBs, clean comfort rooms, nursing stations and other travel amenities including efficient and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity. Round-the-clock Medical and Passenger Assistance Counters and Passenger Help Desks for immediate assistance to passengers are also provided.
PPA is also designating an express lane for security procedures of passengers carrying minimal belongings while the designation of holding, waiting, or embarkation areas to segregate screened from unscreened persons will likewise be made available.
PPA is also requesting passengers to segregate and declare metallic objects and bladed tools for industry use so that such items can be tagged, then turned over for safekeeping and finally be retrieved at the port of destination by the owner.
“We are appealing to the sea-going public to understand the security procedures being undertaken as this is all for their safety and convenience,” Santiago added.
Vessel operators are likewise encouraged to assist in the information dissemination in the event of suspension of operations or ticketing for whatever reasons and to provide information when affected passengers can be accommodated in succeeding trips.