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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Thursday, July 23, 2020
MARINA 7 approved the request of Gov. Gwen Garcia to allow pump boat operators and banca owners in Cebu’s tourism sites to operate even with an expired license until November 15. (Junjie Mendoza)

Pump boat operators and banca owners in Cebu’s tourism sites who suffer from the absence of livelihood amid the pandemic are given relief as the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) approves the request of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to allow them to operate even with an expired license until November 15.

However, Marina emphasized that these operators are still required to comply with the requirements for renewal of licenses so that by Nov. 16, their permits and other documents required for their operation are already complete.

Marina 7 Director Engr. Marc Anthony Pascua said that to operate, the pumpboat owners must have these documents: registration, safety certificate, franchise and a license to operate. 

The boats are required to comply with safety and security requirements like life jackets and other safety protocols.

Garcia called for a meeting with Marina and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday, July 22, to discuss the concerns raised by boat operators and banca owners during a consultation meeting in Moalboal, Badian and Daanbantayn, last week in relation to the opening of Cebu's tourism where health and safety protocols were discussed. 

In these consultative meetings, Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Visayas Director Shahlimar Tamano, said the operators and owners expressed concerns in resuming their operations because of the government's modernization plan which they could not afford yet at this time.

"This was brought up during our meetings with them and their concern was the modernization like their hulls kay wala na silay income for about five months na," Tamano said addressing Pascua.

"What do you think we can do to help them in this present dire situation they are in. Wala na talaga, kahit pondo at savings nila wala na," the governor said. 

Most tourist sites that plan to reopen are in Daanbantayan, Moalboal, Oslob (Sumilon Island), Badian, Cordova. Tour activities in these area use pumpboats whose crew are currently  unemployed. 

"It's really good if we go and visit them because we will know the actual plight they are now in, and it was during our consultations with them that we were made aware of their actual situation," Garcia said.

Pascua said they support the governor's request and that they will give leeway to operators who have expired licences or whose liceses are about to expire. This is because it was only last month that they held mobile registrations in Oslob and Moalboal so operators no longer needed to go to Cebu City for these. 

Pascua sees it best for pumboat operators to have an organization so they can just submit a list of their members to hasten the approval.

Marina promised the governor that they will issue an advisory within the week for local government units (LGUs) to send to pumpboat operators. 
(Vanessa L. Almeda)