Press Release
June 25, 2008


Senate Majority Leader and Independent senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today cited the legal basis for beleaguered shipping company Sulpicio Lines' liability following the sinking of its ship Princess of the Stars and called for the immediate prosecution and conviction of the guilty.

"As public policy and because of the nature of their industry, common carriers are obliged to observe extraordinary diligence and care over the safety of its goods and passengers. They are bound to carry their passengers as safely as human care and foresight can provide," Kiko said.

"Whenever death or injury to a passenger occurs, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently unless they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed by Articles 1733 and 1755 of the Civil Code. The burden lies on Sulpicio Lines to prove that they have been diligent in their operations, and the failure of Sulpicio to ascertain the direction of the storm and the weather condition of the path they would be traversing constitute lack of foresight and minimum vigilance over its passengers and cargoes taking into account the surrounding circumstances of the case," Kiko asserted.

"Sulpicio Lines has figured in so many maritime disasters over the year--MV Doña collided with Mt. Vector in 1987. MV Doña Marilyn sank in 1988 and MV Princess of the Orient went down in 1998. If we will not deal with this latest tragedy with resolve and urgency, we will be sending out the dangerous message that negligent public transport operators can get away with their malpractice," Kiko said.

"Only if we punish more and punish swiftly will painful lessons be learned. Only then will we see an end to these senseless sea tragedies. It isn't only Sulpicio lines or the MARINA that are being held to account here, even the justice system is on trial here and as it goes, sadly it has so far accountability and justice for the victims and their families," Kiko stressed.

"We need to verify who among our government officials approved departure of the vessel. They are saying that they followed rules and regulations since the storm was only at signal #1 but further investigation should be made since the ship sailed through the storm. They were hit, how come other vessels stopped near or at the Batangas port? What were the actions made by the Coast Guard? Warning came too latewhich cost the lives of many. Officials should be made to answer these questions and thus be investigated. If evidence shows that they too are negligent, they must be administratively and criminally charged," Kiko added.

"GMA should come home, go straight to the DOJ and oversee filing of criminal and civil cases against the guilty parties like she did before with suspected rice hoarders," Kiko ended.

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