Press Release
July 16, 2008

MARINA's Clearing
Of MV Princess of Stars Ship Captain, Questionable

Senator Rodolfo G Biazon today said that MARINA's clearing of the ship captain of the MV Princess of the Stars of all liabilities is highly questionable.

"This clearance is even pre-empting the ongoing inquiry being conducted by the Board of Marine Inquiry and even the ongoing court proceedings."

Biazon stressed that the liability of the Captain of the ship and Sulpicio Lines can not be determined until the investigation is completed and the following resolved:

1. The lashing to the deck of the heavy cargoes such as container vans, trucks, cars and other heavy cargoes to prevent the shifting of weights in the ship in the event of heavy weather. A shifting of the cargoes would affect the stability of the ship because of the movement of the cargo to one side. Apparently, the ship's failure to recover from a listing to the port side or left side is caused by such movement by the cargo. This could only cause the ship to capsize. There therefore is a need to investigate whether the cargoes were lashed to the deck which was supposed to have been inspected by the Coast Guard and the officers of the ship.

2. Was there proper use of the ship's ballast to stabilize the ship? This also was supposed to be part of the inspection.

3. Was there a drill conducted before departure to acquaint not only crew but also the passengers on the proper responses to emergency situations such as fire on board, heavy seas and abandon ship measures.

4. The decision of the ship's captain to continue to sail inspite of the fact that its course would take it on a head on collision with the track of a typhoon signal No. 3.

Biazon said the findings on these four issues plus more would determine whether or not the ship captain and or Sulpicio Lines can be held liable.

"I have written the Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy whose divers are involved in the interrupted conduct of examination of the ship to recover the following: the logbook on the bridge which will tell us what were the orders issued by the Captain during that emergency situation; the recovery of the logbook in the engine room which will tell us whether or not the engine conked out or it just slowed down; the recovery of the body of the ship's captain if indeed he is in the bridge because of the experience with the sinking of the MV Princess of the Orient who were saying the ship captain was seen somewhere after being declared by Sulpicio Lines as being one of the casualties."

Biazon said the statement of MARINA clearing the captain of the MV Princess of the Stars now emphasizes the creation of an independent body, the National Transport Safety Board. Right now, those investigating could be held liable. He hopes the President will certify the bill.

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