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DOTC orders leadership change at Coast Guard

November 9, 2006 10:16am
Vice Admiral Arthur Gosingan, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), has been sacked from his post about a month away from his mandatory retirement, dzBB radio reported Thursday.

Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), which supervises the PCG, reportedly gave the order to formally end Gosingan's tenure.

The development came a day after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) asked the Coast Guard to suspend the use of chemical dispersants to cleanup the massive oil spill in central Philippines.

Commander Joseph Coyme, PCG spokesman, said in an interview on dzBB radio that the order took effect Wednesday.

Mendoza also designated Rear Admiral Damian Carlos, chief of the Coast Guard Operating Forces Command, as officer-in-charge of the agency.

"(Carlos) was one of those recommended by Gosingan as his replacement," Coyme said.

Senior PCG officials were holding an emergency meeting at their headquarters as of posting time.

Gosingan was due to retire on December 9.

Coyme said Gosingan had to leave his office because the latter had already reached the maximum three-year tenure of office as Coast Guard commandant.

"He reached the maximum tenure of three years as commandant last November 4. In accordance with the law, he was relieved as commandant. But it is different from his retirement. He'll get his retirement benefits when he retires from the service on December 9," Coyme said in Filipino during an interview on dzBB radio.

Presidential adviser for Western Visayas Lito Coscolluela on Wednesday told GMANews.TV that the DENR formally asked the Coast Guard to stop using chemical dispersants for cleanup operations of the Guimaras oil spill.

Dispersants are chemicals that speed up the natural dispersion of oil from the water surface. Environmentalists have raised fears that the dispersants might harm marine microorganisms.

Coscolluela said the use of dispersants will be suspended until field trials, which he said could take up to three months, can conclusively determine whether or not these chemicals are indeed beneficial.

Sexual harassment?

Coyme belied speculation that Gosingan was removed because of reported complaints involving sexual harassment. He said the Coast Guard is not aware of any such report.

"(Gosingan) is highly commended, he had many achievements in the past three years at the helm of the Coast Guard, particularly in marine environmental protection and search and rescue operations. The Coast Guard's good performance in the Guimaras oil spill is a fitting closure to his career at the helm of the Coast Guard," he said.

Damian, who was promoted in 2004, led a joint rescue exercise with Chinese maritime safety authorities in October 2004.

He also headed a Board of Marine Inquiry that looked into a sea tragedy in May 2003 where two passenger ferries collided at Manila Bay, killing at least 28 people.
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