Officials of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (Marina) Manila office arrived in Cebu yesterday to investigate the death of 39-year-old Ma. Grethel Enas, who rode on board the MV Filipinas Maasin of Cokaliong Shipping Lines.
Arnie Santiago, acting Marina chief, said they will verify whether Enas’s death was an accident or suicide, as many speculate.
“We also need to establish if it was related to safety,” he said.
Enas, a mother of three, was found floating in Leyte province last June 16. She earlier appeared depressed and was crying, prompting fellow passengers to alert the ship crew to keep an eye on her in case she would jump off the ship.
But nobody saw her jump, leaving the circumstances behind her death a mystery and a heartache for her family in Mandaue City, who don’t believe she committed suicide.
Santiago said that while each shipping line has a different safety management system, there is a general safety procedure.
“There’s a system. . .Not all crew members guard all the passengers of the ship,” Santiago said.
Santiago said a person is declared “overboard” if someone actually sees a passenger jump off the ship. The witness should immediately shout or notify the boat captain.
Every shipping line follows the “crowd and crisis management” and safety guidelines, he said.
In the marine protest filed by the ship captain of the Surigao-bound vessel, Henry R. Romo said “no crew saw her jump overboard, if she did at all.”
The skipper said he ordered his crew to search for the missing woman on board the vessel to no avail and “exercised extraordinary digiligence and due care in avoiding any unfortunate incident.”
Santiago said if there’s a man overboard, the ship has to do a “Wilson turn” and turn 360 degrees and throw a life ring, a life prop or any floating object to the sea.
If Enas’ actually suffered depression, a doctor’s certificate is needed to prove it, Santiago said.
Asked if the woman could after accidentally fallen off the ship, Santiago said the MV Filipinas Maasin has three feet high railings which a passenger would have to climb first for that to happen.
Santiago said they also need to establish which part of the ship Enas was last seen in.
Santiago said it was premature to say whether the shipping line has any liability in the incident.
Santiago said Cokaliong Shipping Line management offered P50,000 to Enas’ family as financial assistance but they didn’t accept the amount.
Santiago said Marina will gather witnesses’ accounts, investigate the crew members, do some background check and study the shipping map as part of their inquiry.
In a phone interview, Enas’ elder sister Gladys Teves said they haven’t met with the Cokaliong Shipping Lines management since the incident.