SECURITY MEASURES IN PLACE
Law enforcement, local governments and transport agencies have put in place measures to secure thousands of Ce bu residents moving out in droves to head for their hometowns between today and tomorrow for the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day celebrations.
Security around cemeteries has likewise been beefed up to ensure no untoward incident during the two days of kalag-kalag (All Saints’ and Souls’ Days)
when people troop to these areas to pay their respects to their departed kin and loved ones.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are centuries-old Christian occasions in the Philippines that see millions of Filipinos returning to their hometowns. These events have become more than a tribute to the Catholic saints and the deceased loved ones. They also serve as a break from school and work, and a time to reunite with families.
Malacañang declared October 31 as special non-working day and November 1 as special non-working holiday.
At Cebu’s ports, tighter security and increased visibility have been implemented with the expected influx of passengers going home to their provinces.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cebu Station deputy commander John Manuel Alip said they have deployed around 10 more personnel in each of their 13 substations for security purposes. In normal days, they only have around five personnel per substation.
“The Coast Guard is still on alert. Aside from our additional personnel, we have also deployed K9 units in our piers. We also have our passengers assistance desks in place,” he said.
He said they have been on alert since October 26 and will continue being so until November 6.
Among the busiest piers in Cebu, he said, are Pier 1 and Pier 3 in Cebu City, which are the hubs of shipping lines plying routes between Cebu and several provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
With many more passengers expected to troop to the piers, Alip said it is advisable for passengers to arrive at their designated port terminals three or four hours before their scheduled departure.
He added that bladed and sharp objects are strictly prohibited so these should not be brought by passengers.
PCG-Cebu already monitored more than 6,800 passengers on Saturday morning. Such number is the second highest number recorded in the eight Coast Guard districts in the country.
In Cebu City, security personnel have been assigned in the city’s cemeteries, according to Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters.
“All are in place including emergency response teams and police deployment in each cemetery. They will be in cooperation with the barangay tanods (village watchmen). Everything is ready including the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.
In case of emergencies, he said people should call and inform the city’s command control center.
For his part, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia said they have started deploying their quick response teams in the different cemeteries over the weekend, involving about 48 personnel.
“They will regularly monitor security and safety in their assigned sites aside from the fact that we have our policemen and barangay tanods,” he said.
Medical teams and ambulances will also be on standby in the different cemeteries on October 31 and November 1 except for the Cebu Memorial Park and Queen City Memorial Garden. Medical teams from the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) are the ones assigned to the two memorial parks, Bañacia said.
He reminded that like in previous years, sharp and bladed objects and liquor are prohibited inside the cemeteries, as well as playing of loud music.
Senior Supt. Joel Doria, chief of the Cebu City Police Office, said over a thousand policemen, barangay tanods, traffic enforcers and volunteers are in place to secure Cebu City during the kalag-kalag break.
He also stressed that even policemen are not exempted from the prohibition to bring weapons of any kind inside cemeteries.
At the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), the Philippine Airlines (PAL) alone saw a surge of 15 percent from its normal number of passengers for this year’s holidays.
But according to PAL-Cebu spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, the airline has enough number of flights to accommodate the increasing passenger demands.
“PAL operates eight to 10 flights daily between Cebu and Manila and 14 flights between Cebu and other domestic points within Visayas and Mindanao. This number can adequately meet the demands this period of Undas,” she said.
Villaluna, however, admitted there are flight delays due to the influx of outbound passengers traveling to domestic and international points.
For Cebu Pacific Air, Cebu manager Johnny Yap said 53 to 55 flights are flying from MCIA to the different cities and provinces in the country. Yap said the airline company has prepared for the large number of travelers.
Both airlines advised passengers to check their flight status and to arrive in the airport as early as possible to avoid congestion in check-in counters.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) has stepped up its security measures to ensure maximum safety and convenience of passengers.
“We have suspended the leave of our airport police for the Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2017. Police are also roving inside the terminal for additional security,” said MCIAA public affairs head Maryann Dimabayao.
Dimabayao added that help desks manned by medical and public affairs personnel are set up at the arrival areas.
Tarpaulins bearing airport guidelines are also placed in conspicuous places for easier access of passengers. Police and airport hotlines are also written in the signages.
The Cebu provincial government, meanwhile, has set up first-aid stations at the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) since Friday in line with the preparations for the influx of passengers bound for the southern towns of Cebu.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Baltazar Tribunalo told CEBU DAILY NEWS by phone that they have de- ployed a team of at least six members from their office, and another team from the Provincial Health Office (PHO), to provide medical assistance to anyone in CSBT, located in N. Bacalso Avenue, Cebu City.
Although the influx of passengers in CSBT is already increasing, Tribunalo said there were no reports of any untoward incidents. CSBT manager Joey Herrera also said they are expecting 33,000 south-bound passengers within the next two days.
Additional 14 policemen from the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) were deployed in CSBT since Friday morning, he said.
The Mactan bureau of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), meanwhile, announced on Sunday evening that a cloud cluster has been spotted 500 kilometers from the eastern boundary of the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).
According to weather specialist Leo Aguirre, the cloud cluster may enhance into a low pressure area within the next 48 hours. The weather system is foreseen to enter through Visayas and southern Luzon.
“This means that there is a big possibility that we will have rainy All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days here in Cebu. Moderate to occasionally heavy rains will pour starting Tuesday evening,” Aguirre explained.
Pagasa could not yet determine if the cloud clusters will eventually develop into a stronger weather system.
Aguirre said those who will be staying in cemeteries and outside their homes should carry their umbrellas and rain gears with them.
The weather specialist also warned of possible flooding in cemeteries and low-lying areas.
“We will have a clear picture of this weather system by late Monday or Tuesday. So everyone should just check our weather updates.”
Coastal waters, however, are seen to be light to moderate and are safe for fishing and sea travels.