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QUEZON, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commander in the Southern Tagalog Region (Region 4A) urged local government units and coastal resort owners on Tuesday, April 11 to revisit guidelines on the deployment of lifeguards to keep beaches safe.
In an interview with Rappler, Commodore Inocencio Rosario, Coast Guard head for the region covering Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon provinces, said the agency issued a 2014 memorandum mandating the assignment of lifeguards in swimming areas.
“The PCG also offered free lifeguard training for beach and pool resorts,” Inocencio said after the Philippine National Police Office in Region 4A (PRO 4A) updated its figures on drowning fatalities during the Holy Weekend break.
PRO 4A said 24 persons drowned. Batangas led the cases with 11, followed by Quezon with six, Cavite with four, and Laguna with three.
While lifeguards are a requirement for resorts, the PCG does not have the power to sanction erring resort owners or administrators of public beaches.
“Wala kaming kapangyarihan na ipasara ang mg resort na walang lifeguards,” Inocencio told Rappler.
(We don’t have the power to close down resorts that have no lifeguards.)
“LGU [Local Government Unit] ang dapat mag-pasara at mag-kansela ng business permit nila,” he added.
(It’s the LGU which can close down and cancel their business permit.)
PCG Memorandum Circular 03-14 lays down guidelines for safety and security requirements of coastal beach resorts and vessels with pool facilities, including assigning lifeguards to promote the safety of life at sea.
The first safety requirement of the memo pertains to lifeguards.
“All resorts shall provide the services of a sufficient number of lifeguards duly trained by PRC [Philippine Red Cross], PLS [Philippine Life Saving] or other PCG-accredited organization and be certificated (sic) by the Philippine Coast Guard. There should be one lifeguard for every twenty (20) meters of length of beach coastline,” it reads.
The same document also calls for the deployment of medical teams and the provision of buoys in resorts with cantilevered seabeds.
“There shall be placed on a coastal or beach resort an adequate number of buoys (approximately 1 for every 10 meters) attached with safety net which shall be spread within the area whenever there’s an abrupt depth of water (kantilado),” it says.
“However, when the beachfront has no abrupt depth of water, an adequate number of buoys shall be placed to be determined by the resort owner or keeper as safe for swimming purposes,” the memorandum states.
The Coast Guard emphasized the importance of having lifeguards in swimming areas to prevent drowning.
According to Coast Guard spokesman Rear Admiral Armand Balilo, life saving training should be incorporated in every school, given that the Philippines is an archipelago.
‘Don’t drink and swim’
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo on Monday, April 10 said many of the drowning cases involved alcohol use.
Seventeen individuals, including minors, drowned during the 5-day-long weekend vacation in the CALABARZON Region, encompassing five provinces – Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon – in Region 4A.
The tragic incidents occurred as a result of beach swimming, out-of-town trips, and visits to swimming pool resorts where alcohol was consumed, and children or minors were left unaccompanied or unsupervised.
According to Police Brigadier General Melencio Nartates Jr. of the Police Regional Office 4A, drowning cases are commonly caused by swimming in the sea or river, as well as accidents in deeper parts of these bodies of water.
On April 7, the first incident of drowning was reported at Purok Maligiya Barangay Talao-Talao, Lucena City, Quezon at around 7 am. An unidentified male victim was found on the shoreline after a low tide.
Three hours later, another drowning incident occurred at a beach resort in Barangay Lumaniag, Lian, Batangas, around 10 am on Good Friday. Joshua Lee Vhon Monte Hermosa drowned while swimming with his family and friends and was declared dead at the Apacible Memorial District Hospital.
Later that day, another drowning incident took place at Barangay Munting Indang in Nasugbu, Batangas, at around 2 pm. The victim, Rexie Detaonon, was swimming in the river and got submerged in the deep portion due to a strong current.
On April 8, another drowning incident was reported in Kay-Anlog river in Calamba City, Laguna province at around 1:30 pm. Jhon Aquiles Villena drowned while swimming with friends and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
In the Lady Mary Beach Resort in Barangay Matingain I, Lemery, Batangas, Juanito Tiples drowned on the same day at around 1:30 pm. It was reported that he was intoxicated before the incident.
A day after, in Lemery, Batangas, another drowning incident was reported at Barangay Sambal Ilaya at around 3 pm. A group of six individuals were walking along the seashore when they got into the deep part of the sea and were hit by strong waves, which resulted in some of them being unconscious.
Gian Carlo Tubal, Fritzy Jane Tubal, and Grachel Sulit were pronounced dead on arrival at the Batangas Provincial Hospital, while Danilo Tubal was undergoing treatment at the same hospital. Mark John Sulit and Princess Erich Sulit were reported missing. Search and rescue operations were conducted, but their bodies were later found floating in the waters of Lemery.
In Barangay Liwayway, Tiaong, Quezon, on Saturday at around 9:40 am, Erwin Dimaano drowned while fishing on the side of the Talon River in Sitio Liwayway. His lifeless body was found floating in the river.
In Atimonan, Quezon, on the same day in the afternoon, a minor named Gelo Villarin drowned in the Lan Mer Resort river in Barangay Santa Catalina. His body was found lifeless, floating in the river.
In Barangay Banago, Nagcarlan, Laguna, Cale Julius Benjamin Abitria, 12, drowned at 11:40 am on April 9 while swimming. The victim was found under water and declared dead at the hospital.
A senior citizen drowned at around 6 am on April 9, in Sitio Hulo, Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas. The victim, 76-year-old Hipolita Legaspi, together with her family, were swimming in the sea in Nasugbu, Batangas. Unfortunately, the victim was pulled into the deep portion of the water due to a strong current.
At around 10 am on April 9 at Kainah Beach Resort, Barangay Lubayat, Real, Quezon, another victim, Ryan Mallare, 40, drowned while swimming on the shoreline when he and his friends were swept away by strong waves and carried into the deep part of the water. He was pronounced dead on arrival after being rushed to the hospital.
In the town of Ternate, Cavite, Junie Camora Calupas, 23, drowned and her body was found on the shoreline of Bucana Beach.
A fish vendor in Barangay San Rafael, Noveleta, Cavite was also pronounced dead on arrival after he drowned at Long Beach at around 1:35 am on April 10. The victim, Rodrigo Damayo, 67, was seen swimming together with his neighbor. He was later found unconscious and lying on the water. – Rappler.com