What Went Before: Sinking of MV Princess of the Stars

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Around noon on June 21, 2008, the motor vessel Princess of the Stars sank off Sibuyan Island, Romblon, in rough seas whipped by Typhoon “Frank.”

The passenger ship owned by Sulpicio Lines sailed from Manila and was bound for Cebu City. Of the more than 800 passengers, only 32 survived. More than 300 bodies were recovered in the search and retrieval operations that followed.

Sulpicio officials claimed that “an act of God”—not engine failure—sank the ferry. At the same time, the shipping company accused the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) of gross negligence, saying that inaccuracies in its forecast caused the ship to find itself in the eye of the storm, leading to its sinking.

In August 2008, the Board of Marine Inquiry said in a 62-page report on its investigation into the incident that Sulpicio Lines was responsible and called for the suspension of its license to operate.

On Oct. 14, 2008, Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26 junked a P4.4-million damage claim of Sulpicio Lines and Sulpicio Lines executive Edgar Go against Pagasa and its officials, saying that it found no basis in the claim that “wrong forecasting” caused the tragedy.

On June 25, 2009, upon the order of the Department of Justice (DOJ), charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide were filed in the Manila RTC against Go and Princess of the Stars skipper Capt. Florencio Marimon, whose death in the sinking had yet to be validated.

In March 2010, the DOJ denied a petition for review filed by Go and refused to withdraw the criminal charges it filed against Go and Marimon. Go then filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied on June 8, 2010.

Then acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra upheld the recommendation of the panel to absolve Suplicio president Enrique Go, executive vice president and chief executive officer Carlos Go, senior vice president and secretary Victoriano Go and first vice president Dominador Go.

According to the Public Attorney’s Office, as of June 2010, there were 135 cases (71 in Metro Manila and 64 in Cebu City) in courts lodged by families of the victims suing the company for millions of pesos in damages.

Sulpicio Lines has figured in several maritime disasters, including the sinking of the MV Doña Paz in December 1987, dubbed as the world’s worst peacetime sea tragedy, which left more than 4,000 people dead.

In February 2010, Sulpicio changed its corporate name to Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp.—Inquirer Research

Source: Inquirer Archives

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  • mfdo

    It is FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES .. where else can you murder 4000 people and then another 1000 and still rub shoulders with the powers-be and also get recognised as ‘successful business family’ ??

    • http://twitter.com/wadjitzain coty

      an abomination!

  • http://twitter.com/wadjitzain coty

    ha ha tell me, at the present how Filipinos have been killed by “Suspicious Lines”! and yet they continue to operate at will!

    at the present how many Filipinos have the “BNPP” killed so far?!

  • buttones

    Well. This company has been responsible for more deaths than Bin Laden’s 9/ 11 and still operates with complete immunity and impunity even after five long years. Why? The blame for this, which the Chinese owners tried to place on God, which is true irony in itself, has been dismissed under Law. The blame placed on Pagasa has also been dismissed. The fact of the matter was that when this vessel sailed there was a typhoon over PH, yet it was still allowed to sail, the typhoon veered of Pagasa course, as typhoons do because they don’t actually know about Pagasa, and the captain, knowing what was happening decided NOT to run for shelter under the arrogant assumption he had a ‘big boat’ and could weather the typhoon. Thank God he’s dead.

    Firstly, these patched up floating hulks we call our ferries are not designed for heavy weather, they are designed to pack as many people on board, along with any illegal cargo, as was reported. Secondly we will never really know how many died, in PH passenger manifests are hardly worth the paper they are written on, about the same as captains qualifications. Thirdly, why is our justice department not pursing this matter of bringing to justice the very people who killed one thousand people?

    • AlexanderAmproz

      Corona with his hidden dollars accounts can easily explain the Philippines golden Justice wheels rules…

      • buttones

        Well this is PH and given contacts, names, heaps of hard cash and all rest of it anything is possible. If it were the case you ‘hint’ at the boy was hardly on his own! I just put it down to an infant, archaic, plodding sort of Justice system and government that pursues matters of misguided priority such as squeezing money out of the US for the ‘accident’ on the reef recently- ASAP- the 1000 dead from the Princess, who through no fault of their own are actually dead, which is now sliding into history, with zero chance of any recompense seems irrelevant… And this third rate, third world shipping company sails on regardless of the wake left behind them of at least five thousand dead souls, and the effect of that on another twenty thousand souls as well. Still[ never mind eh?

      • mfdo

        Corona is gone .. don’t be like PNoy who keep harping on GMA – what did the successors to Corona do ? Nothing .. they let the Company rename to another and continue to make money .. don’t blame the justices – the problem is the lawmakers who left enough holes for even murderers to get away

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