The Philippines is deemed to have some of the “best beaches in the world,” and most foreign tourists find it impossible to resist these world-class beaches. But Inquirer.com reported that no lifeguards accredited by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are overseeing those beaches.
In Boracay alone, tragically, a 17-year-old girl drowned to death on July 29 in one of its resorts because of the absence of an on-call lifeguard anywhere near.
The Boracay district, known for its 4.5 kilometers of picturesque views and powdery white sand, topped the prestigious 2012 World’s Best Awards by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
As based on the PCG website, the Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009, also known as Republic Act 9993, “prescribes the guidelines and procedures for the safety and security requirements of coastal and beach resorts including qualification and requirements of lifeguards for the promotion of safety of life at sea.”
In Section 7.2 of the said Act, it is indicated that in order to be lawfully accredited, “All resorts shall provide the services of a sufficient number of lifeguards duly trained by PNRC, PLS or other PCG accredited organization and be certificated by the Philippine Coast Guard.”
Resorts caught violating RA 9993’s regulations are meagerly fined P 5, 000.00 plus warning for first offense; P 20, 000.00 and one (1) month operational suspension for second offense; and P 50, 000.00 and six (6) months operational suspension for third offense.
But even with the passage of RA 9993 more than two years ago, the PCG has yet to certify its first ever lifeguard in the country, according to the Inquirer.com report.
Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesman, was quoted saying in the news report that the agency, which is attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, is “still finalizing the guidelines covering the issuance of lifeguard certificates.”
Boracay, meanwhile, claimed to be making real efforts to ensure that all who stay on the island are safe “by bringing in a 17-man team of qualified lifeguards.”
Other celebrated beach districts like Pagudpud, Puerto Galera, and Zambales continue to be keen about providing accredited lifeguarding services in order to ensure safety of their guests.
Ashlie Paulino, a 20-year-old accomplished swimmer who has been competing internationally, stressed the importance of the presence of lifeguards on shore. “Even experienced swimmers are not [that] hundred percent safe around open waters. The current is unpredictable and oftentimes deceiving. There should always be lifeguards around in case there are people who need immediate and specialized help.”
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that on the first half of 2012, visitor arrivals totaled to 2,143,506 which is a significant increase of 11.68% from last year’s volume of 1,919,400.
With a steadily increasing rate of tourist arrivals, these resorts are therefore expected to live up to their reputations by investing in safety and security equipments, training programs, and getting their lifeguards certified.