MANILA – A sea tragedy that killed 31 people in the Iloilo-Guimaras route last week is prompting Philippine authorities to transition sailors and boat owners to abandon wooden-hulled boats for sturdier, more modern vessels.
The Maritime Industry Authority on Friday said it is set to meet with local government officials in Guimaras to discuss the transition to more modern vessels following a ban on wooden-hulled boats.
"Next week pupunta na kami sa Guimaras para kausapin ang [local government units, mga cooperatives paano po 'yung alternative kabuhayan natin para babaguhin na natin sasakyang pandagat natin na very resilient na po sa weather condition in that area," Marina OIC administrator Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr. told radio DZMM.
On Monday, Marina suspended all operations of passenger motor bancas operating the Iloilo-Guimaras route while the agency conducts its investigation into the sea tragedy that claimed the lives of 31 people last week.
"May directive na sa amin si [Transportation] Secretary [Arthur] Tugade na effective noong nakaraang insidente na bawal nang maglayag ang bangka na wooden hull," Vingson said.
Guimaras Gov. Samuel Gumarin earlier said the ban may affect around 500 sailors and their families.
Currently, there are 7 steel-hulled vessels ferrying passengers from Iloilo to Guimaras. These include 4 roll-on/roll-off vessels (roro) and 3 fastcrafts.
Vingson said that of the more than 7,000 registered vessels, about 80 percent of them are wooden-hulled.
"But that is our direction right now. Mapapalitan na natin 'yang desenyo ng motor banca kasi po ang de katig po ay talagang hindi safe para sa passenger," he said.
Vingson clarified that wooden-hulled boats with outriggers are still allowed for fishing, for cargo and for tourists.
"Pero 'di po nating papayagan na ngayon na gagawin siyang pampasahero," he said.