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Loren: Gov’t lax in enforcing sea safety standards

December 27, 2009

THE LATEST MARITIME TRAGEDY COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED HAD GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES BEEN MORE CAREFUL IN ENSURING THE SEAWORTHINESS OF INTER-ISLAND VESSELS, ACCORDING TO SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA.
“The Christmas Eve collision of a passenger ferry and a fishing boat at Manila Bay underscores once more the shortcomings of the concerned government agencies in the proper monitoring of maritime vessels,” Loren said.

The collision between the wooden-hulled passenger ferry M/V Catalyn B and the steel-hulled fishing vessel F/V Anatalia off the coast of Cavite province left three people dead and 24 others missing. Some 46 others survived the latest sea tragedy.

“While accidents do happen, government cannot evade responsibility for its lax enforcement of maritime safety standards,” she said.

Loren recalled that it was not too long ago that the last major sea tragedy, the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province, claimed many lives.

“While the Maritime Industry Authority has done the right thing in suspending the franchises of the two shipping firms involved in the accident, government must do much more so that we can avoid more sea tragedies,” she said.

Maritime authorities, Legarda emphasized, should continuously monitor compliance by shipping firms with existing safety standards and regularly check the seaworthiness of all inter-island vessels.

With the country experiencing major sea disasters every so often, it is incumbent upon the government to take firm steps to protect the lives of people who depend on inter-island shipping, Legarda said.