Press Release
June 25, 2008

Villar: Latest maritime accident undermines competence of Filipino seafarers

Senate President Manny Villar today said the latest maritime accident involving a ferry with more than 700 passengers is not good for the image of Filipino seamen, whose reputation is now widely known as one of the trusted in the world.

"Since most of the seafarers worldwide came from the Philippines, accidents in RP waters send a bad message against the competence of more than 300,000 Filipino seamen. Second to our ultimate goal to protect lives, this is one of the reasons why we should not allow the list of these deadly sea accidents to continue," Villar said.

Villar, who is now in Europe, said he is echoing the concern of Filipino seafarers he met there after news of the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars reached them.

In a statement, the Nacionalista Party president added he is supporting the call to strengthen maritime safety measures in the country and expressed hope that an investigation on the matter would yield viable policy recommendations for safer sea travel.

The Senate president also expressed sadness as more bodies were recovered from the sunken ferry.

"A quick profiling of those recovered tells us that many of them are poor. Travel by ship is the means of transportation preferred by poor Filipinos in going to the provinces," Villar said.

"Maritime safety, therefore, should be a priority in this government's pro-poor agenda," he added.

Villar said the reputation of Filipino seamen as the most competent in the world should be protected because at stake is some $1 billion of seafarers' remittance a year.

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