Hang those ship captains

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Sunday, August 31, 2014


ON LAND, when a driver figures in a road accident, especially if it involves physical injury or loss of life, he is immediately detained or charged if there is no agreement reached between the other party. But at sea, ship captains remain “scot free” even if they figure in the worst maritime disaster.

This is what happened to the captains of passenger vessel mv St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go shipping and cargo vessel mv Sulpicio Express 7 of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (formerly Sulpicio lines). The two vessels collided on Aug. 16, 2013 at the Lawis ledge in the waters off Talisay City, which resulted to a death toll of more than a hundred passengers. More than 20 passengers were also declared missing.

The Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) has just released its findings on the sea tragedy based on separate investigations conducted by the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina). Based on the findings, Capt. Reynan Bermejo of mv St. Thomas Aquinas and Capt. Rolito Gilo of mv Sulpicio Express 7 committed grave error in manning their respective ships, which resulted to the collision. Mv St. Thomas Aquinas should have given way to Sulpicio when the two ships were cruising Lawis Ledge.

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According to the BMI’s decision, the collision would not have occurred if the master of the Aquinas had recognized that a “crossing situation” had developed. Under the rules, the BMI said, the Aquinas should have given way, while Sulpicio Express 7 should have kept its course. Adverse consequences associated with the collision would probably not have occurred or would not have been so serious if both vessels had reduced speed, thus limiting the damage to both ships.

Aquinas was about to dock at the Cebu wharf from Nasipit, Agusan, while Sulpicio Express 7 had just lifted its anchor from the pier and was leaving for Davao City when the incident happened at around 8:45 p.m. Aquinas sank right after the collision, which also resulted to an oil spill that damaged the shores of Cordova town. The BMI also noted the inadequacy of maritime traffic systems at Lawis Ledge, which is the usual route of inbound and outbound ships at Cebu ports.

So the findings are the two ship captains were found liable. But you know what, the BMI, in its report, did not recommend any sanctions or penalty against the two skippers. They are not even charged administratively so their licenses will be revoked by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), which has control and supervision over all licensure examinations. The BMI said its role is only to recommend measures so that such incident is not repeated.

Susmaryosep. How many lives have been lost due to maritime disasters because of human error? Meaning, it’s the captain’s fault.

Yet, authorities cannot charge the culprits criminally and administratively? If I had my way, I will hang those ships captains or throw them into the sea so they can join the missing passengers. I am quite sure the two captains were given other assignments.

Ambot og naa bay kalag ning tawo. Kon naa ato ni silang ipakalag aron dili makatulog maghayang. Pagkawalay ayo ning balaod sa kadagatan.

Atong hangyoon ning atong mga magbabalaod nga i-repaso ning balaod sa kadagatan.

***

We experienced another flooding last week due to heavy downpour. Almost all areas in Cebu City were flooded, especially those near creeks. In Sitio Magtalisay near the Mahiga Creek in Mabolo, residents had to be evacuated because the water had reached neck’s level. At the north reclamation near SM City and in downtown areas, traffic was stalled because these areas were heavily flooded.

So what is the solution to the frequent flooding? I don’t know when our local officials will act on this problem? The City’s executive and legislative are pointing fingers at each other. There was already an appropriation for the implementation of the drainage system but the budget has been stalled because the City Council did not approve it. Maayo panglumsan nang mga konsihal nga wala mo-aprobar anang budget. Aw, hinoon motumaw ra man ning problema sa baha kung mo-uwan. Modagkot ug mohalad lang ta og itlog sa Carmelite aron dili mo-uwan. Pagkatoytoy.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 01, 2014.

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