The Department of Transportation (DOTr) inagurated the Philippine Coast Guard’s first Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), which composed of VTMS Control Center and three Radar Stations strategically located at Headquarters Coast Guard District Central Visayas, Talisay, Bantalinao, and Interbridge to have full coverage of vessel movements and to prevent maritime traffic along Cebu-Mactan Channel in today’s Turn-Over Ceremony with DOTr Secretary Arthur Planta Tugade as the Guest of Honor and Speaker at Coast Guard District Central Visayas, Pier 3, Arellano Boulevard, Cebu City last Monday, February 12.
The event was graced by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Philippines, His Excellency Koji Haneda together with Susumo Ito, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency. Moreover, the PCG delegation was headed by Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Elson E Hermogino PCG together with Rear Admiral Joel S Garcia PCG, Ph.D., H.D., Al-Haj and Commodore Lyndon F Latorre PCG.
The VTMS, one of the components of Project for the Enhancement of Coastal Communications System under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Official Development Aid (ODA)/ Grant Aid amounting to 1.152 Billion Yen, is a combination of advance navigation and communication systems for the purpose of implementing Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) wherein the service is implemented by a competent authority, in which case, the Philippine Coast Guard, to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic, to improve the safety of life at sea, and to protect the environment in accordance with the IMO resolution A.857(20).
Being the second largest domestic port in the Philippines and a maritime hub for the Visayan region, the port of Cebu is one of the busiest maritime traffic in the country considering as well the history of collision of the Philippine-registered passenger ferry operated by 2Go Travel, M/V St Thomas Aquinas, and a cargo ship named M/V Sulpicio Express Siete of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation causing the sinking of the said passenger vessel way back 16 August 2013.
During the official investigation of a Special Board of Marine Inquiry on 23 August of the same year in Cebu City, the captain of Trans Asia Nine, a cargo ship in the area of the incident, testified that the Sulpicio Line Siete was in the inbound lane instead of the outbound line which caused the collision and the death of 55 passengers, 65 missing with 750 rescued. PCG