The Joint Task Group on Maritime Security and Safety and the Joint Task Force Leon Kilat in Negros Oriental are pushing for the realization of the proposed Tambobo Bay Development Authority in the municipality of Siaton.

The proposed Tambobo Bay Development Authority had stalled a number of years back due to some problems that have yet to be resolved to date.

Lt. Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho, Coast Guard Dumaguete station commander, said yesterday that following a recent inspection at Tambobo Bay, government security forces saw the need to have a composite group based there for security and other concerns, such as health and the environment.

Tambobo Bay in Siaton is a favorite mooring spot for yachts and similar private sea craft, mostly owned by foreigners.

While the Coast Guard has personnel stationed there, as well as a Philippine Navy boat deployed in the bay, Ramacho explained that the presence of other agencies is also needed there.

For instance, the Bureau of Immigration has to check regularly on the documents of foreigners coming here via Tambobo Bay.

Peter Bueno of the local Bureau of Immigration said that foreign yacht owners voluntarily report to his office in Dumaguete City but there is no way to determine if all of the yachts moored at Tambobo Bay are properly documented, Ramacho said.

During their visit late last week, they randomly boarded some of the estimated 20 yachts for inspection and verification, but not all of the owners were present, she added.

The inspecting team included officers and representatives from the Coast Guard, Navy, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine National Police, Ramacho said.

Most of the yachts are owned by American citizens, she said.

Ramacho explained that some of the foreigners are not necessarily based here but just moor their yachts at Tambobo Bay while they are abroad.

She also said a half-submerged sea vessel in Tambobo Bay needs to be salvaged.

Ramacho said the vessel is the motor launch (ML Al Althie) which was intercepted a few years back for a large-scale smuggling attempt of thousands of bags of rice pegged at more than P12 million.

In that incident in April 2015, joint authorities from the Bureau of Customs, the Coast Guard and the PNP, confiscated 9,000 bags at 25 kilos each bag of rice, other goods like boxes of crackers, power detergents and carpets, among others, valued at around P241,520 and the motor launch, totaling worth around P26 million.

The motor launch was moored at the Tambobo Bay pending investigation by the Bureau of Customs but due to damage in the hull, it is now half-submerged, Ramacho said.

She assured that there is no oil spill that would threaten the environment or residents in the area.

However, it has to be salvaged as it is hazardous to navigate for yachts and other vessels in the bay.*JFP