Winds threaten fluvial parade

IF the weather does not get any better in the coming days, the Coast Guard may recommend to organizers some changes in the Sinulog fluvial procession.

Coast Guard Commander Antonio Cuasito yesterday said they will monitor the weather until the event this Saturday.

If the weather worsens, it would be the first time in years for a major annual event, which reenacts the historic arrival of Fer-dinand Magellan to Cebu in 1521, to be cancelled.

Upon setting foot on Cebu’s shore, the Portuguese explorer reportedly gifted Queen Juana with the miraculous image of the Señor Sto. Niño.

Cuasito said that if strong winds persist, he might recommend to organizers that bancas (small boats) with a capacity of less than three gross tonnage will not be allowed in the event.

He said a member of the Coast Guard will also be in each boat to make sure there will be no overloading.
He will encourage passengers, especially those of smaller boats, to wear life vests.

“Our first priority is the safety of the participants. And we cannot compromise their safety if the weather is bad,” said Cebu CG Deputy Chief Virgilio Tibayan said.

Participants to the fluvial parade have until today to register their boats with the Coast Guard Station Cebu. No fees will be collected from the participants. Sea marshals will make sure unregistered boats do not join the procession.

Cuasito noted that those unregistered boats were the ones that disturbed the flow of the procession, which was why they will be strict in keeping them off the procession route this year.

Cuasito added that they will only register boats that have proper documents from the Maritime Industry Authority.

As approved by the CG, conventional or big vessels will compose the first division, seacraft weighing 15 gross tonnage and below will follow, while the smaller vessels, such as motorized bancas, will compose the third batch.

To maintain order, each batch will have a CG vessel serving as lead boat and all the non-registered seacraft will be placed at the tail end of the flotilla, Tibayan said.

Tibayan said participants will be briefed on safety regulations during the registration.

As of yesterday morning, only 38 vessels had registered.

Although there was no storm signal warning, three inter-island ferries bound for the towns of Bato and Hilongos, Leyte cancelled their scheduled trips due to bad weather Wednesday night.

Two more passenger ships, mv Ara and mv Tagbilaran, bound for Talibon, Bohol and Palom-pon, Leyte, respectively, returned to Cebu City port after encountering big waves in high seas. (GC/MEA)

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