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Town distributes life jackets to fishers

By Edna Bagadiong

VIRAC, Catanduanes --- The municipal government of Virac in the province of Catanduanes distributed more than 700 life jackets to registered fishermen as part of its maritime safety campaign.

“Every fisher on a boat should be wearing a life jacket throughout their fishing expedition as a precaution. This is a simple and practical measure that can help safeguard your lives at sea,” Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes said while distributing the flotation devices to 760 fishermen.

“As most people are aware, a life jacket keeps you afloat and your airway out of the water,” Laynes said, adding that it is uncommon for someone to drown while wearing a life jacket.

The Catanduanes provincial government now requires all boaters and fishermen on small boats navigating 100 meters away from shorelines or river banks to wear life jackets at all times.

Violators of Provincial Ordinance 034-2024 may face a fine of up to P5,000, imprisonment, or both.

Barangay officials, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the PNP Maritime Group are authorized to apprehend and issue citation tickets to violators.

Catanduanes Provincial Board Member Jose Romeo Francisco, the principal sponsor of the “Requiring the Use of Life Jacket Ordinance,” noted that the Maritime Industry Authority’s safety regulations primarily cover commercial boats and sea vessels, leaving other types of watercraft without adequate safety oversight.

“Recent tragic maritime accidents involving motorized bancas have highlighted the need for urgent action to enhance safety measures for traditional and motorized boats,” Francisco said.

Supporters of the ordinance included the widows of fishermen who were lost at sea during stormy weather on fishing trips.

Investigations have shown that the recent fatalities in waters could have been avoided if life jackets had been used.

"Why are life jackets important? Because they can save a non-swimmer from drowning," said Isaias Bigol Jr., an old hand at disaster readiness.

“Thus, either wear a life jacket or be prepared to return home in a body bag," he added. (PIA5/Catanduanes)


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