OVERHAUL LOOMS: Iloilo Strait tragedy triggers review of sea transportation

DEPARTMENT of Transportation (DOTr) Arthur Tugade (in purple shirt and black jacket) pays his respects to one of the casualties of the Iloilo Strait mishaps at the Guimaras covered gym on Aug 7, 2019. (Ricky Alejo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Iloilo Strait tragedy that claimed the lives of 31 people triggered the need to overhaul protocols, safety nets, and other measures in the sea transport industry.

During his visit to the wake of the eight casualties at the Guimaras gym in Brgy. San Miguel, Jordan, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Arthur Tugade admitted the lack of facilities in Guimaras and Iloilo ports.

According to Tugade, the current facilities cannot accommodate 15,000 passengers to and from Iloilo and Guimaras.

Oo naman, una talagang kulang ang capacity rito, alam namin ang mananakay namin dito not less than 15,000 pero ang pacilidad na nagpapagalaw sa kanila karamihan po diyan bangka. Pailan-ilan lang ang tinatawag na roll-on roll-off vessel (RORO),” he said.

One of the survivors of the tragedy, Rogen Basco caught the attention of Sec. Tugade particularly his suggestions to change the systems of motor boats in Guimaras.

Basco emphasized that life jackets are not enough to ensure the safety of the passengers. He survived but he lost his wife Angelita to the tragedy.

Dapat ilisan naton ang sistema sang bangka sa Guimaras kay kun indi na naton mailisan nga amo gihapon ang sistema ang natabo sa amon ni misis, matabo man sa iban na passengers,” he said.

Tugade said he already ordered the permanent wearing of life vests on motor boats three days after the incident.

Ang pagsuot ng life vest automatic na yan. Bago ka maupo sa upuan mo, kapareho ng sumakay ka ng eroplano naka fasten seat belt ka, dapat magkaroon tayo ng disiplina na pagsumakay ka ng barko kailangan naka life vest ka,” he stressed.

He added that they are looking into the possible overhaul of the design of motor boats.

Tugade, who underscored the need to develop the ports in Guimaras and Iloilo, emphasized that the transportation department and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are working together for the improvement of ports management.

PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said they will implement stricter safety protocols and monitoring and regulation of the sea transport vehicles.

Magkakaroon ng pagbabago sa pamamalakad ng ating pangtransportasyon sa tubig para maiwasan yung mga ganitong insidente kasama diyan yung mahigpit na implementasyon ng mga safety protocols, pag papaigting ng mga monitoring ng regulation yung kalidad ng mga sasakyang pandagat at pati na yung monitoring ng mga pasahero,” he said.

There are also plans to improve the ports, particularly the one in Fort San Pedro and the fast craft terminal in Lapuz, Iloilo City.

In two to three years, Santiago added that they will limit the operations of cargo vessels at the Iloilo River Wharf.

lilimitahan na natin diyan ang operasyon sa Iloilo River Wharf at ating paiigtingin ang pag sasaayos ng ating terminal sa Fort San Pedro para doon na mag diskarga at magkarga ng mga kargamento yung mga barkong gumagamit sa Iloilo River Wharf,” he said.

For long term solutions, there are also plans to develop the fast craft terminal in Lapuz into a modern terminal complete with amenities for the waiting passengers.



Aside from improving the infrastructure, Santiago said they are developing a new electronic ticketing system for all the ports nationwide.

“Ito ay para sa ating mga pasahero na kung saaan ang PPA na ang mismong mag iissue ng ticket para sa mga sasakyan,” he said.

The electronic ticketing system will ensure that there will be no overloading on motor boats and other sea vessels and passengers will not be victimized by ticket scalpers and fixers, according to Santiago.

“We are already in the advanced stage ng development ng ticketing application. Hopefully we should be able to pilot test the and do yung limited run sa selected ports ng PPA nationwide,” he said.

Tugade added that they are doing their best to employ a “holistic” approach on the tragic situation.

“As we feel sad about what happened, we have to look forward and learn our lesson, so that a situation like this will not happen again,” he noted.