Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Improve Maritime Safety

Citing the devastation caused by typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) as a "wake-up call," Senator Richard Gordon, Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) chairman, called on the government to improve maritime safety.

"Typhoon 'Frank' was a wake-up call. We must implement measures to prevent the loss of the lives of our fishermen. We must improve our forecasting equipment, our maritime regulations and our rescue facilities to ensure that this tragedy never happens again," Gordon said during his visit to typhoon-ravaged Cadiz City on Wednesday.

Gordon and volunteers from PNRC visited the cities of Cadiz and Victoria in Negros Occidental to provide relief to fishermen and families whose loved ones died during the onslaught of the typhoon last June 22.

Twenty-two vessels sank in Cadiz City, leaving 89 missing, 41 dead, and 289 rescued from the crew.

In Victoria City, 10 are reportedly missing until now, Gordon said.

"This calamity has greatly affected the lives [of fishermen]. A lot of them have lost their means of livelihood. We must ensure that they are given the proper assistance and support to rise up from this tragedy," he added.

Gordon said the government should provide both the weather bureau the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Coastguard with better equipment and facilities.

"A special bulletin should also be made exclusively for fishermen to provide them with early warning and reduce the risk of maritime disasters on small fishing vessels," he added.

Affected fishermen should also be given "soft loans," or loans that could be paid in easy terms, with the help of World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Gordon said. By Abigail Kwok - INQUIRER.net

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