Coast guard orders 2Go to salvage Aquinas
THE Philippine Coast Guard has sent a demand letter to 2Go Travel for the immediate salvaging of the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas which sank at Lauis Ledge, off the coast of Talisay City after colliding with a freighter last Aug. 16.
The PCG said the sunken ship needs to be salvaged as it poses navigational threat to ships coming in and out of the busy Mactan Channel. The coast guard said the wreck continues to pose a threat to the marine environment and 2Go has the moral and social responsibility to recover the 21 missing passengers believed to be trapped inside the ship.
Container vans and other cargos inside the ship that sank last August 16 may get loose and float, endangering passing vessels.
The PCG also noted that even if the siphoning of oil and fuel from the ship already stopped last September 24, there are still observable leaks.
A total of 6,880 liters of oil were recovered from ship. The management of 2Go earlier said that the ship was carrying 120,000 liters of bunker fuel, as well as 40,000 liters of diesel oil and lubricants.
“We are still waiting for reply from the company but we have not given them the specific time-line but what we stated is an immediate salvage,” PCG Station Commander Weniel Azcuna said.
According to Lito Salvio, 2Go vice president, they have already referred the PCG’s concern to the top management.
“The government did it’s best to recover as much as possible the victims that were trapped inside the vessel,” Commander Weniel Azcuna, head of the PCG Cebu Station added.
The retrieval operations also ended on Sept. 24.
The tragic sinking of the MV St Thomas Aquinas left 116 people dead, 21 missing. 46 of the casualties remain unidentified and were buried last Sept. 25 at the Carreta Public Cemetery in Cebu.
Meanwhile, Salvio said 2Go has not yet received the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for them and the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (PSACC) to pay P41 million as compensation for environmental damage.
The sinking of the 2Go vessel came after it was rammed by Sulpicio Express Siete of PSACC (formerly Sulpicio Lines). The Special Board of Marine Inquiry has finished its investigation on the sea tragedy but is yet to come up with a decision on who erred between the two ships.
Salvio however said that they will still meet with DENR on October 9 to discuss the compensation issue.
They have been given until November 15 to settle the liability. PSACC has yet to issue a statement on the matter.
“I still don’t know about the compensation matter because it is a legal issue,” Salvio added.
The sea tragedy has caused massive oil spill damaging the coasts of Cordova town in Mactan Island. The oil spill had also affected the coastal areas of Lapu-Lapu and Talisay cities.
Yesterday, the 2Go shipping company has presented the clean-up and development projects for Cordova town after the oil spill.
Joel D. Hizon, pollution officer of Gemetron, the outsourced clean-up firm of 2Go, said that the clean-up in Cordova is 80% complete.
Also, Nicky Cariglia technical adviser from International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) said that areas have observed some fishermen going back to fish in the municipal waters of the town.
The 2Go shipping company has already spent P55 million for the clean-up project in the town of Cordova.
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