House probe sought into Cebu sea mishap

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker is seeking a review of the government’s supervision and regulation of water transport operations in the country in light of the collision of two ships in Cebu that left at least 33 dead.

Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon, a member of the House transportation committee, said Sunday he will file a resolution to get into the bottom of the accident involving passenger ship M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas and cargo ship MV Sulpicio Express 7 last Friday.

Expected to be summoned are officials of Marina and the Philippine Coast Guard, who will be asked to report on the status of regulation of sea vessels in the country.

The probe may tackle the sea worthiness of inter-island passenger vessels and overcrowding of some of these ferries and the alleged discrepancy between the passenger manifest of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and actual number of passengers.

“The fact that we are allowing 40-year-old ferries like M/V St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that something is amiss in the supervision and regulation of water transport vessels in the country,” Ridon said, adding it is ironic that an archipelago like the Philippines has lax sea transport regulations.

Marina, which operates under Presidential Decree 474, is tasked to “provide for the effective supervision, regulation and rationalization of the organizational management, ownership and operations of all water transport utilities and other maritime enterprises” in the country.

Ridon said the certificates of public convenience of 2GO, owner of MV St. Thomas Aquinas, should be cancelled if proven liable for negligence.

Marina suspended on Saturday the fleet of 2GO and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., which runs M/V Sulpicio Express Siete, as the two companies were given until Tuesday to explain why their operations should not be called off.

Separate probes will be conducted by Marina and the special board of inquiry to check liabilities and determine the cause of the fatal collision. Marina is already looking at the possibility of human error. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
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