MANILA, Philippines — Two more Philippine Coast Guard vessels, loaded with relief goods intended for thousands of evacuees in Zamboanga City, arrived on Saturday at the southwestern Mindanao port, the PCG spokesperson said.
Commander Armand Balilo, also chief of the Coast Guard’s public affairs office, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, on Sunday, that “both the BRP Edsa and the BRP Corregidor carried supplies sent by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.”
“The ships’ cargoes included sacks of rice and assorted canned goods, among other relief goods,” disclosed Balilo, noting the relief items would be “distributed to evacuees staying at the Baliwasan Grandstand in Zamboanga City.”
The Edsa and the Corregidor, both search and rescue vessels, left Manila on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Both ships stopped briefly in an undisclosed Cebu port for refuelling.
Last Thursday, another Coast Guard vessel, the BRP Pampanga, arrived in the same Zamboanga port, carrying 631 sacks of rice, sardines and other canned goods, noodles, as well as energy biscuits, that originated from the DSWD regional office in Cebu City.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II personally inspected the commodities while being unloaded at the port, reports said.
Aside from the relief goods, the Pampanga also ferried a team of doctors tasked to “provide medical aid to evacuees.”
The Department of Transportation and Communications-attached command had pulled out the vessel from its search and retrieval operations for the 21 missing passengers and crew of the ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas, which sank on Aug. 16 after colliding with the cargo ship Sulpicio Siete Express off Talisay City in Cebu.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard headquarters in Manila confirmed reports that shipping operations in the southwestern Mindanao area were “still suspended” as of Sunday (Sept. 22).
The operations of all passenger and cargo ships based in the Zamboanga City port are “still suspended due to “ongoing mopping-up operations by government forces against Moro National Liberation Front fighters,” according to a PCG statement.