"Suspicious liner"

July 8, 2008 10:35am CST
[I know this is kinda late post. Just a commentary about the MV Princess of the stars tragedy here in the Philippines] Sulpicio lines are getting the reputation as a suspicious liner now. I even heard someone over the radio call it as "Perwisyo lines". After having the MV Princess of the stars tragedy that launched almost a thousand of people’s lives, will there still be hope that this luxury liner will deliver its customers the true essence of safe voyage in sea? Or will the Philippine government’s plan of taking over a ship liner really is the last resort? It is now probably the world record holder for the most number of ship voyage turned disaster. Sulpicio Lines have a total of four major sea disasters, the first which is the MV Doña Paz in 1987, which has the highest number of casualties that even surpassed Titanic’s, then MV Doña Marilyn in 1988, MV Princess of the Orient in 1998 and the latest which is MV Princess of the Stars on June 22, 2008. For the past few weeks, local newspapers has been constantly updating about the tragedy that happened in the island of Sibuyan in Romblon about the tragic ending of MV Princess of the Stars. The MV Princess of the Stars left Manila on Friday evening of June 20 and sent a distress call at 12:55 p.m. on June 21, Saturday, saying it was experiencing engine trouble. The ship was later confirmed to have capsized. Typhoon Frank would hit a big percentage of Cebu area, the route of the vessel according to the weather forecast but this forecast was only given three hours after the ship sailed. It makes me wonder why Captain Florencio Marimon Sr. still insist to set sail despite the rule that whenever there is a storm, sailing with rough waters is a very dangerous thing to do. It is a gamble with death. News reports stated that Capt. Marimon is the best captain that is why he is entrusted to manage the MV Princess of the stars but why did it ended as a tragic affair? And also, if he is really good enough, then why did he go on a battle with the forces of nature? Sometimes, those courageous acts are not really enough. I heard over the radio the conversation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, Coast Guard chief, the President asks Tamayo about why the ship did not received any warning about the storm; he answered back and said that ships of the same size with MV Princess of the stars were not included in the storm warnings emanated by PAGASA. If this is a pure fact, then the rules is lacking something about the rule itself. Why exclude the size of a ship if it still is considered a ship? What’s the point of leaving something due to its size if we are talking about people’s life as a part of business? It would be better if we will take some precautionary measures than risk other people’s lives. There are many possible reasons on why the skipper still settled to continue the voyage in spite of the danger they might face. One thing is that, the passengers like in the airport, people are complaining if their flights are delayed due to many private reasons they have in mind, as to the passenger of the boat, they might also had the same idea specially the businessman that is why the captain was forced to travel due to those hard headed passengers. Another possible reason would be the Endosulfan pesticide of Del Monte Philippines which happens to be in the passenger boat than on a cargo vessel. Is the pesticide the main reason of the captain? What is this doing in a ship that is not meant for shipment of goods? And why is it that on the time of rescue operation, Sulpicio lines did not mentioned about the pesticide that the ship has and that it might not do anything good on the rescue team. The endosulfan is highly toxic, why are they hiding the truth? Why didn’t they even bother to tell that the vessel has something very poisonous like that? If they really are concern about people’s lives, they would tell this in the earliest time possible so that appropriate actions can be done. The PAGASA weather forecast can be also one of the many possible reasons on why the ship has sunk. Their weather forecast for the past few months seemed to be inconsistent. This may be due to their downgraded or lack of appropriate equipments that can’t track real weather results in real time. Maybe they also have a part in this tragedy but what percentage of it is to be blamed on them, nobody knows. Hundreds of people are still missing, but the company doesn’t seem to look like they’ve learned their lessons well. Are four major sea disasters not enough? The government for their part, does not have the guts to implement rules and giving proper charges to whoever give a hard time managing a vessel company? Given the bad record such as what Sulpicio lines have as are they given the company, why are they given permit to conduct business despite their obvious deficiencies. Robert Francis Kennedy once said that tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live. Is history repeating itself? Or is it man repeating the same mistakes? Will we ever know the real story? Is the captain really among the ones who died along with the sunken ship or is he hiding from the critical eyes of the public? Whatever the reason maybe, it still points to one conclusion that some people give a little value on life, that the authority has a relaxed set of regulations and act as lame duck when it comes to regulating or implementing rules or laws for reasons of greed. Traveling people from one port to another is a service venture, hence involving people’s lives. If this is the case, no compromise is good than saving or enabling them to reach their destination safe and alive. The government exist for its purpose, thus the people maintaining its management should be those that put the lives of its people over anybody else, including his/her family.
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