Senate probe pushed into Cebu ship collision



Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is seeking a Senate investigation into last week’s sea mishap off Talisay City in Cebu to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” Pimentel said it was  important to address the problems causing ship collisions even after the ships have been declared sea worthy by regulatory authorities in clear weather conditions.

“I am told that the Lawis Ledge, a narrow and treacherous strait where it occurred, had been the scene of minor sea transport mishaps in the past,” he said in a statement on Thursday, referring to the site of the sea disaster.

Aside from the need to check on the capabilities of the ship captains involved, Pimentel said, government agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard must adopt measures to ensure that such incidents would not happen again.

“There should be a way to warn ships, ferries and other vessels passing through the area to slow down and take the necessary precautions so that vessels smash-ups are avoided,” he said.

Pimentel noted that the same shipping company was involved in at least five major tragedies in the past, including the tragic sinking in 1987 of  the ferry, Dona Paz which left more than 4,300 dead, then considered as the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

The others were the Dona Marilyn which sank off Leyte amid a typhoon, killing more than 250 passengers, and the Princess of the Orient which sank in a port near Manila in similarly bad weather, leaving 150 casualties, both in 1988. The Princess of the Stars sank in the middle of a storm, claiming 50 victims.

All four ships, Pimentel said, were operated by Sulpicio Shipping Lines, Inc. that resumed operations in 2008 after getting suspended.

Sulpicio Lines is now carrying a new name Philippine Span Asia Carrier, Corp, owner of M/V Sulpicio Express Siete that collided with M/V St. Thomas Aquinas  of 2GO Shipping Lines that sank last Friday, which left more than 70 people dead.

Related Stories:

Death toll from sunken ferry rises to 71

Cebu sea accident toll up, but figures differ

24 dead as 2 ships collide near Cebu port

13 dead, 36 wounded in Cebu ship collision

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