Press Release
June 23, 2008

Jinggoy urges resignation of MARINA chief

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today called for the resignation of Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Vicente Suazo and the prosecution of the owners of M/V Princess of the Stars that capsized last Saturday off Romblon at the height of Typhoon Frank.

Estrada said Suazo and other MARINA officials should resign for implementing "defective" guidelines that allowed the Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, to sail despite the incoming typhoon.

He said the owners of Sulpicio Lines should also be prosecuted for disregarding the safety of their passengers after the ship's captain was ordered to sail from the Port of Manila bound for Cebu last Friday even after the weather bureau raised signal No. 1 in the Visayas.

More than 700 passengers and crew remained missing after the M/V Princess of the Stars capsized near Sibuyan Island off Romblon Island which was directly in the path of Typhoon Frank that slashed through the Visayas and Luzon, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

"The officials of the MARINA and Sulpicio Lines are all responsible for the more than 700 people who went missing or had died after they disregarded warnings from weather forecasters," Estrada said.

Reports said that the MARINA implements guidelines that allow big ships like the Princess of the Stars to sail even when typhoon Signal No. 1 was raised by the weather bureau.

The MARINA guidelines give ship owners the discretion to either ground their big ships or set sail when typhoon signal No. 1 was raised by the weather bureau.

Estrada said those guidelines have "no logic," ships whether big or small should be grounded when there is a storm even if it is only typhoon signal No. 1.

"There is no sense allowing vessels to sail into a raging storm, that's suicide or maybe murder," Estrada said.

He said MARINA officials should be sacked for not doing their jobs to regulate the operations of shipping companies and ensure the safety of passengers.

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