Senators’ aid to ‘normalize’ motorbancas’ operations sought

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE Guimaras Provincial Government has asked Senators Bong Go and Ronald dela Rosa to assist operators of wooden-hulled motorized boats return to their normal operations.

In a letter, Gov. Samuel Gumarin requested the senators to help them establish the “normalcy” in the operations of the motorized bancas more than a month after the sea tragedy that left 31 people dead.

“We hope that this plea and the plea of all Guimarasnons to be heard and to put set in place maintainable mechanism to prevent the recurrence of future maritime tragedies and other effects it may cause while stabilizing the economy,” read Gumarin’s letter.

Of the 83 total passengers from the three bancas, 31 died while 65 survived due to strong winds caused by the low-pressure area and enhanced by the southwest monsoon last Aug.3, government data showed.

President Duterte ordered the Philippine Coast Guard to look into the reason behind the mishap to determine whether the tragedy was caused by nature, structure, equipment, among others.

The ongoing investigation also aims at enhancing policies on security and safety of the riding public as the top priority.

Guimaras Rep. Ma. Lucille earlier filed a resolution directing the House committee on transportation to conduct the investigation to review the Coast Guard’s capability and existing protocols when responding to such an incident.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) allowed the trips of the motorbancas plying Guimaras and Iloilo route, and vice versa.

But authorities said motorbancas are allowed to sail only during good weather condition. Taurpaulin covers should also be rolled-up, or removed during severe weather conditions.

In the letter, Governor Gumarin said that his constituents still struggle in facing the effect of the disaster on the transportation sector.

That’s because Guimarasnons rely mainly on the motorized bancas for their transportation from and to Iloilo City for their livelihood and education.

Local and tourist residents also have to brave the heat of the sun queuing for long hours just to get a ride to and from Iloilo.

“The limited mode of sea transport has gravely paralyzed our island that relies mainly in agricultural and tourism as the major economic drivers,” said Gumarin.

“We would like to request for your assistance and support for the return of the normal operation of our motorbancas under strict regulations from the Philippine Coast Guard and to likewise establish normalcy in the island province,” the letter read.