Coast Guard Augments Palawan Force

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has started beefing up its security measures in Palawan as tourists continue to arrive in the province for the summer vacation and Lenten break.

Coast Guard Palawan District Commander Commodore Enrico Evangelista said they recently conducted a tourism awareness seminar workshop for Coast Guard personnel in preparation for the surge of visitors.

Evangelista noted the steady increase of tourists in Palawan. Figures from the provincial tourism showed that in 2009 there were 345,738 visitors to Palawan, going up to 523,872 in 2010 and 631,135 last year.

He said there is a need to redefine the Coast Guard's role to cope with the booming tourism industry in Palawan.

"We needed to hold a seminar because of the sudden boom of tourism in the province. There would be an increase in the frequency of travelers via water especially those who would be visiting (tourist spots) such as Honda Bay, Sabang, El Nido, and Coron," Evangelista said

He also said more people will be visiting Palawan to see the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) which has gained fame as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

There would be more people taking boat rides in order to get inside the river and among the measures the agency have taken is assigning K9 teams in their district.

Evangelista said there is no K-9 team deployed in Palawan and he will be requesting the Coast Guard headquarters to send trained dogs to the province.

He is also requesting for four more divers from the Coast Guard's Special Operations Group (CSOG) to beef up the complement of nine divers in Palawan.

The maritime agency also plans to increase patrols in areas such as Honda Bay.

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