Senate urged to probe Cebu sea collision-A A +A
Thursday, August 22, 2013
SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III joined a party-list lawmaker on Thursday in calling on Congress to investigate the sea mishap off Talisay City in Cebu to find ways to prevent a similar accident in the future.
Pimentel said it is important to address the problems causing ship collisions even when the vessels are declared sea worthy to sail by authorities in clear weather conditions.
The collision between cargo ship M/V Sulpicio Express Siete and passenger vessel M/V St. Thomas Aquinas on August 16 has left more than 70 people dead. The captains of both ships refused to claim responsibility for the accident, which occurred at Lauis Ledge, scene of minor sea mishaps in the past.
Passenger vessel M/V St. Thomas Aquinas was reportedly carrying 116 crew members while the Sulpicio cargo ship had on board 36 seafarers.
Aside from possible administrative and criminal liabilities, owners of the colliding ships in Cebu, MV Saint Thomas Aquinas 1 and MV Sulpicio Express Siete, could be facing violation of labor standards.
In a statement, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) related that its Central Visayas regional office found possible violations of labor standards and occupational health and safety.
"Initial investigation showed that both ships have no health and safety committee or safety officers," said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
Because of this, she said it would be better if a more extensive probe would be conducted.
"We have yet to ascertain the extent of compliance or non-compliance with labor standards and occupational health and safety by the two ships," said Baldoz.
The Board of Marine Inquiry is already set to look into possible administrative and criminal liabilities against operators of the two ships.
Similar to the proposal of Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon, Pimentel said government agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), which regulates water transport utilities, and the Philippine Coast Guard must adopt measures so that smash-ups are avoided.
Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., which operates M/V Sulpicio Express Siete, was involved in at least five major tragedies in the past, including the sinking in 1987 of the ferry, Dona Paz which killed 4,300 individuals, considered as the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.
PSACC used to be the Sulpicio Shipping Lines, Inc., which was renamed in 2009 following its suspension over the sinking of Princess of Stars off Romblon at the height of Typhoon "Frank". (Virgil Lopez, HDT/Sunnex)