Press Release
June 26, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called for a review of the practice of maritime transportation authorities to allow ageing second-hand sea vessels to operate as passenger ships that put the lives of people at great risks.

"I question the policy of the government, specifically the Department of Transportation and Communications to grant second hand vessels junked by their foreign owners certificates of seaworthiness that endanger the lives of innocent passengers," he said.

The move was taken by Pimentel in the wake of the sinking of the 23,824 M/V Princes of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, with more than 800 passengers and crew on board.

Princess of the Stars was the biggest of Sulpicio Lines' fleet of passenger ships. The 23,824-ton ferry was already 25 years old when it was bought from Japan by the shipping company in the early 2000s for $5 million.

Owners of M/V Princess of the Stars claimed the ferry was in good condition when it was cleared by the Philippine Coast Guard at the Port of Manila and sailed off at sea in the morning of June 20 (Friday).

By midday of June 21 (Saturday), the captain of the ship was advised by the Coast Guard to take shelter to avoid the approaching Typhoon Frank with peak winds of 170 kilometers per hour. But just as the captain attempted to do that, he radioed back that the ship's engine had conked out, and reported the vessel was listing.

Strong winds and giant waves swept the passenger ship, causing a hole in its hull. It sank off the Sibuyan island in Romblon at 11:45 a.m. June 21 (Sunday).

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