MANILA, Philippines -- The Bureau of Marine Investigation (BMI) has found many ?lapses? in Sulpicio Lines Inc.?s training and orientation of its crew.
But the panel investigating the sinking of Sulpicio?s MV Princess of the Stars could not yet make any conclusion since it still has to hear the statements of other witnesses, BMI vice-chairperson and spokesman Rear Admiral Benjamin Mata said Monday.
At Monday?s hearing, Phel Gilig, an apprentice engineer at the ill-fated ferry and one of the 57 who have been found alive thus far, said he failed to participate in any of the weekly abandon ship drills conducted by the ship?s captain, Florencio Marimon Sr., because he was always ?on duty.?
But Mata said being ?on duty? could not be an excuse to skip safety drills, explaining that each crew member has a crucial task to perform during emergencies.
Gilig, the only witness questioned by the fact-finding panel Monday, had been working for four months when the ferry sank off the coast of Romblon during the onslaught of typhoon ?Frank? (international codename: Fengshen).
He was among the survivors washed ashore in the town of Mulanay, Quezon province.
Gilig also told the panel he was not properly informed about the vessel?s physical layout and his task during emergencies since he was immediately given assignments when he boarded the ship.
Mata asked if MV Princess of the Stars had ?station bills? posted in the cabins and along the corridors enumerating the ?permanent assignments? of all crew members.
?There were. But I didn?t mind them,? Gilig replied.
Mata noted that Gilig was still young. ?You can?t expect him to know everything.?
He said it would take about two more weeks before the BMI could finish hearing the testimonies of all witnesses the panel intends to invite.
After the inquiry, the panel would draft recommendations to prevent a repeat of the sea tragedy, Mata said.
The next BMI hearing is set on Wednesday, 2 p.m. with witnesses Sulpicio manager for safety and quality assurance Nelson P. Morales and SLI Manila's Port Engineer Benjamin Eugenio.