Holy Week exodus begins

Aquino visits terminals for safety of travelers

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A family goes through security check prior to boarding a ship at Pier 12 in Manila’s Port Area. LYN RILLON

As the exodus from Metro Manila began, President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday inspected ports, airports and bus terminals to ensure the safety of the travelers.

On the road, residents have been leaving in droves for their hometowns, resulting in heavy traffic on major thoroughfares, including Edsa and the South Luzon Expressway.

Others are leaving for the beaches and tourist sites to take advantage of the Holy Week break.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has suspended the number coding scheme starting March 27 (Holy Wednesday) until April 1 (Monday).

On Tuesday, drivers and their conductors were subjected to random drug and alcohol tests in provincial bus terminal stations in the metropolis.

MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino on Friday led the teams conducting the tests in bus terminal stations in Cubao in Quezon City and on Taft Avenue in Pasay City as part of the agency’s campaign to ensure that bus drivers and their conductors were in good shape to safely transport passengers.

“We want to be certain that bus drivers traveling to the provinces have not taken illegal drugs. Otherwise, we won’t let them take over the wheels,” Tolentino told reporters.

So far, about 30 drivers have undergone an alcohol test using a breath analyzer.

Positive for drugs

Only one driver (of Victory Liner) tested positive for alcohol in Pasay City.

The driver said he had a few drinks before going to work but he told Tolentino that his duty would start late in the evening so he had time to sleep it off.

The random tests will run for two days from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The MMDA has deployed around 1,800 personnel to man the major thoroughfares and entry and exit points as part of its Metro Alalay Semana Santa 2013 program.

Most of the traffic personnel are assigned to roads leading to provincial bus terminals and other vital installations such as airports, seaports and pilgrimage sites.

President’s visit

President Aquino visited North Harbor at past 9 a.m. He inspected a shipping company’s two ticketing booths, check-in counters, help desk areas (medical team and security help desk) and passengers’ pre-boarding facilities, including X-ray machines.

Officials briefed the President on the initiatives that were being implemented to make the harbor’s facilities at par with international standards.

He boarded the “Princess of the South,” a passenger vessel docked at Pier 12, and checked on the passengers. The ship, which has a total capacity of 2,000 passengers, later left for Cebu.

Simplify signs

Following the inspection, Mr. Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview that he had brought to the attention of port and transport officials some “issues” over certain emergency procedures for passengers of ships and ferries.

“On the ship itself,… there are signs that tell you where you’re supposed to go (during emergencies), but all are (written) in English,” the President noted.

He ordered officials to simplify the instruction signs.

The President proceeded to the departure section of Terminal 4, the old Manila Domestic Airport, at around 10:15 a.m. He underwent the same procedures as an air passenger to see for himself the services at the terminal.

He spoke to several waiting passengers as he joined the queue at the ticketing booth, baggage X-ray area, check-in customer counter, and pre-boarding gate of Southeast Asian Airlines and Zest Airways. Most of the passengers encountered by the President were bound for Davao, Kalibo, Legazpi and Boac.

He also passed by the customs area and inspected banned hand-carry items confiscated from the passengers such as umbrellas and large-sized lotion bottles.

At the pre-boarding area, the President shook the hands of passengers, and spoke to a mother carrying a child. Other passengers brought out their phone cameras and tablets to take snapshots.

At Terminal 3, Mr. Aquino and his entourage also inspected the passenger and baggage counters at the domestic departure and arrival sections.

Come early

From Naia, the President proceeded to the Victory Liner Bus terminal on Edsa, Pasay City, to inspect security preparations for Filipinos traveling to Southern Tagalog, Bicol and beyond.

The Manila International Airport Authority, operator of Naia, called on passengers to arrive early in the airport and to expect heavy traffic on roads bound for the Naia complex. Passengers were also called to check with their airlines for cancellations and re-booking.

Traffic jam

His huge convoy, however, caused a traffic jam on the stretch of Edsa from Makati City to Pasay City.

The President appeared satisfied with the measures being implemented by the MMDA to ensure the safety of passengers traveling to the provinces.

The Philippine Coast Guard, for its part, has placed on heightened alert all its stations and detachments nationwide to ensure safe sea travel during the Holy Week, according to the PCG spokesperson.

Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said an undisclosed number of Coast Guard personnel had joined their counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in deploying covert security and intelligence personnel in various ports and on interisland ships.

Aside from sea marshals, emergency response teams and help desks, K-9 units will be fielded by the Coast Guard.

Colorum interisland vessels

Balilo, also chief of the PCG public affairs office, reminded those traveling by sea not to take “fly-by-night,” or colorum interisland vessels.

Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena, Coast Guard commandant, has warned that “fly-by-night shipping vessels do not carry insurance for their passengers.”

“Most of them also have defective life rafts and life vests,” he pointed out.

The Coast Guard Action Center (with hotline 0917-PCG-DOTC) “will be open 24/7 to respond to questions and emergency calls,” Isorena added.

Boracay

Commodore Athelo Ybañez, Western Visayas Coast Guard commander, said Coast Guard personnel had enhanced the inspection of passenger motorboats and ferry boats, especially those going to and coming from major vacation sites like Guimaras and Boracay Islands.

The inspections involved the checking of life jackets, fire-fighting equipment and other safety devices.

Ybañez said the Coast Guard would also ensure that there would be no overloading of boats and ships in ports in the region.

Search and rescue teams are being readied to respond to accidents, including drowning incidents in beach destinations.  With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada in Manila and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • batangsulpok

    Bakit kailangan pang Presidente ang mag-inspection, nasaan ang mga taong inilagay niya sa LTO, PNP at iba pang sangay ng gobyerno? Kaya dapat inilalagay sa puwesto ay yun mga bata pa na mga agresibo, di yun mga retired na ginagawang bakasyunan ang opisina.

    • Guest

      yun lang kasi tama niyang nagagawa since 2010 sa tuwing may mahaba bkasyob sa bansa ahehehe

  • BatangSingapore

    mahal na araw pero si kris tulo aquino nagpapasarap sa paris disneyland. lahi talaga ng traydor at hudas yan mga cojuangco at aquino.

    • artgarcia

      Far out!

    • marivon

      Bro I am not a fan of Kris but your comment is below the belt. Read the article again and you will realize that many Filipinos are going to places to have a retreat and relaxation. Following your logic lahat ba ng Pilipino na magbabakasyon ay traydor at hudas?

    • CmdrAdobo

      inggit ka lang.

    • Magsasaka

      hanggang singapore ka lang kasi hehehe

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000923389289 David Bobir

    Sorry Philippines….but the fact your president is the one that has to do an inspection tour and tell ship operators how to change emergency signs really says a lot about PH

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

      It also says a lot of your arrogance and impudence!

    • http://alasfilipinas.blogspot.com/ Pepe Alas

      The Holy Week rush is one of the most important events in the Philippine calendar. Thousands of Filipinos troop to their hometowns during this season, creating traffic concerns. That is why our president (note: I am not a fan of his) has a special concern over this matter. If he wants to personally oversee how our ports and airports operate during this very important event, it is none of your business. The fact that you fail to recognize this really says a lot about how your country reared your way of thinking.

  • Hey_Dudes

    This is the most difficult area if you are to consider investing in the country. There is just too many holidays and productivity is affected by this constant event. This is not excluding mother nature contributing to the problem at times causing businesses to close while the country is hit by strong typhoons and holidays at the drop of a pin. No. I’d rather invest my hard earned money in countries that can offer productivity and willingness of employees to contribute to the success of the business.

    • riccisan

      i agree with you. thats why we are so left behind…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

        Go and leave the Philippines with your friend, Hey_Dudes so you would have time for each other and not feel you are left behind.

      • batangsulpok

        Reality lang naman ang sinabi ni Hey_Dudes na sangkatutak ng holidays sa Pilipinas, kung ikaw ang may-ari ng kompaniya, matutuwa ka ba na pasahod ka ng pasahod pero walang production dahil pista opisyal?

      • riccisan

        yeah, we will earn some money abroad, and well come back and spend it sa Pinas. pasalamat ka were keeping our country afloat, eh ikaw, sa tanda mo mukhang palamunin ka pa ng gobyerno. hope you die soon. ay huwag muna, kasi pwede ka pa namin ipahiya sa mga comments mo here as always.

    • boldyak

      of course you, only want the success of your business, me, i only want the success of my country, if my country is successful, my business will be successful, and I am willing to take a risk…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

      Why are you still here? Get out of my country, you ungrateful alien!

      • Crazy_horse101010

        tsk tsk what about your health remember what you said about name calling and yelling to other people practice what you preach

      • Andrei Mendoza

        do you want the “ungrateful alien” to say the same thing to our country men living in their country for telling the truth?

        moron like you are the reason why other nations looked down at us.

  • noypi_ako

    Unlike buses and jeepneys, mas madaling marecognise ang Colorum Interisland Vessels, saka kelangan nila ng Port Clearance from PCG bago makapaglayag. Ano kaya ng dahilan at hindi sila magawang hulihin ng PCG on the spot?

  • boldyak

    kunyari lang inspection, but the real purpose is to campaign for his lapdogs…

  • http://alasfilipinas.blogspot.com/ Pepe Alas

    “On Tuesday, drivers and their conductors were subjected to random drug and alcohol tests in provincial bus terminal stations in the metropolis.”

    Halos ualáng cuenta yan. Pag uminóm ang mg̃a yan ng maraming sucà, hindí rin maquiquita ang droga sa drug testing. Maútac ang mg̃a “hominus adictus “ñgayón.

  • TEAM PNOY

    Pasensya na po mga kababayan, madaming nag comment dito na yong presidente natin ay trabahong pang inspector na lang ang magagawa. Instead of executing high level policy of national interest, sabi ng iba na ang comment pa ng presidente ay yong mga signs sa barko ay dapat hindi nakakalito at dapat hindi puro english ang mga signs. Pasensya na po kayo, hangang doon lang po ang kaya nag presidente. Nag pro promise po kami na next time, he will do better. Last year, mga kubeta ang na inspection nya, dis year, mag sinages naman, next year, may improvement po. May three holy week pa naman para ma perfect natin ang sistema, Pag-aaralan pa natin ng husto ito.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GYYFBINDMTZHM6TDHPB667452M agustin

    NO to UNA and TEAM NOY (AB). these candidates are mostly trapos celebrities and corrupt political dynasties. only our hope is to vote the independent senatorial candidates.

  • bugoybanggers

    Isama na sa pag CHECK ang pangangampanya. Okay naman talaga ito, pagkakataon na naman ng mga POLTIKO!

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