What went before: MV Doña Paz tragedy
In December 1987, MV Doña Paz, owned by Sulpicio Lines Inc., sailed through Tablas Strait off Mindoro Oriental province to Manila. The trip, which started from Tacloban City, Leyte province, carried passengers trying to get home for the Christmas holidays.
Its manifest listed 1,493 passengers and a 53-member crew, but survivor accounts showed the vessel was carrying more than 4,000 passengers—more than twice its declared capacity of 1,518 passengers and 60 crew members.
Despite a clear night and fine weather, Doña Paz rammed into the 629-ton Vector, which was transporting 9,000 barrels of fuel from Bataan province to Masbate province. The collision set off a fiery explosion. Over 4,000 people died.
A year after the Doña Paz sank, another Sulpicio Lines vessel—the MV Doña Marilyn—capsized, leaving 150 people dead. Authorities allowed the Doña Marilyn to sail from Manila to Tacloban City at the height of Typhoon “Unsang.”
Ten years later, in September 1998, another vessel from Sulpicio Lines sank, resulting in the loss of 150 lives. The MV Princess of the Orient sank between Cavite province and Batangas province, hours after it moved out of Manila at the height of Typhoon “Gading.”
In June 2008, the MV Princess of the Stars, also owned by Sulpicio Lines, sank off the coast of Romblon province. Despite the bad weather caused by Typhoon “Frank,” the Coast Guard gave the vessel clearance to leave. Only 32 of the 851 people aboard survived.
In August 2013, the passenger ferry St. Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel Sulpicio Express 7 collided off Talisay City in Cebu province, which resulted in the sinking of the ferry. The death toll in the collision was 108.
Source: Inquirer Archives