Emergency procedures are necessary to counter accidents and other unplanned events that threaten the lives of crew members, passengers and valuable property. In times of danger at sea, the issue of survival remains dubious.

It could be remembered that on 09 June 2019, 22 fishermen who were abandoned at sea after their fishing boat, GEMVIR1, was sunk by a Chinese vessel at the Recto (Reed) Bank in West Philippine Sea had luckily survived and made their way home and get reunited with their families, on 14 June 2019, days after the incident.

Realizing the circumstances, the loss of life and casualties at sea calls for a solution to prevent such fates to happen again in the future, thus in relation with Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) a joint initiative of DOLE MIMAROPA, National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), LGU San Jose, Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to initiate Basic Safety Training for Motorboat Handlers/ Operators and Fishermen with Typhoon Preparedness to the 22 fishermen of Recto Bank was held on July 17-18, 2019 at Sikatuna Beach Hotel and Restaurant in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

Present during the activity are the team from NMP headed by Capt. Emmanuel Jesus M. Laguitan, Training Specialist V/ Head, MTAD, Regional Director Joel M. Gonzales (DOLE MIMAROPA), Mr. Joseph A. Reyes, Shipping Operations Specialist II (MARINA Region IV), LCDR Eddyson Abanilla, Station Commander (Coast Guard – Occidental Mindoro), Hon. Roderick Q. Agas, Acting Mayor of LGU San Jose, Mr. Philip D. Ruga, TSSD Chief (DOLE MIMAROPA), Mr. Roderick F. Tamacay, Field Office Head (DOLE Occidental Mindoro).

The importance of knowing what to do in an emergency cannot be over stated. The only way to become proficient in emergency response is through training and drills.

During the two-day activity, participants were able to learn and apply the personal survival techniques, knowing what to do in an emergency, first-aid, having the right equipment, knowing how to use said equipment, means of survival, personal life saving appliances, donning of life jacket, fire fighting, proper signalling, ground rules for navigation, rules of the road, marine environment protection and actual demonsration at the water.

Indeed it has been a very productive training, and the fishermen deeply appreciated the efforts made by the government to capacitate them, and after these, they realized one thing, “training is not a “recreational” luxury to be implemented when times are good but a continuous effort that is even more valuable when times are rough.

End/Gener L. Francisco