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The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) published last week the revised rules on grounding of vessels during extreme weather conditions, with the shipping industry saying it would better facilitate trade and commerce. The revised rules, titled "Guidelines on Movement of Vessels During Heavy Weather," were in memorandum circular 01-09 issued on Feb. 5. It prohibits vessels less than 1,000 gross tons from sailing under public storm signal 1 within the point of origin, path and destination.
The rules would take effect 15 days after publication, or on Feb. 20, said Vice-Admiral Wilfredo D. Tamayo, PCG commandant. Mr. Tamayo Sunday said affected stakeholders such as Philippine Interisland Shipping Association (PISA), Philippine Liner Shipping Association, Filipino Shipowners’ Association, Alliance of Philippine Fishing Federations, Inc., Lighterage Association of the Philippines and the Masters and Mates Association of the Philippines and industry regulators Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Ports Authority took part in crafting the new policy.
Mr. Tamayo said in an interview that all vessels are grounded if signal 2 is raised within the point of origin, path and destination. Vessels that have sailed under this weather condition would be advised to take shelter. The circular has lifted the interim rules that automatically prohibited all vessels from sailing under signal 1. "It’s a welcome development. It will help liners meet their scheduled trips. Passengers and cargo owners should also be able to plan their trips and meet their commitments with better accuracy," Josefina C. Maitim, PISA officer-in-charge, said in a text message. The new directive resulted from the review of an earlier policy issued by PCG on June 2007 that banned all vessels from sailing only when storm signal 3 and 4 are raised. Vessels with less than 1,000 gross tons are banned from sailing during signal 1, while vessels with less than 2,000 gross tons are not allowed to sail during signal 2. The earlier directive was reviewed following the sinking of Sulpicio Lines, Inc.-owned M/V Princess of the Stars last June 21 off Sibuyan island in Romblon province. The 23,800-ton liner sailed on June 20 as signal 1 was raised in Metro Manila and signals 2 and 3 were raised on its path. The vessel, which was en route to Cebu from Manila, carried over 850 passengers and crew, but only a little over 30 survived. - BusinessWorld