Press Release
December 29, 2009


The state of maritime transport in the Philippines seems to be a continuing "national tragedy." During the last few days alone, we have witnessed two more ships sink, Catalyn B and MV Baleno-9, killing a still undetermined number of passengers.

The law is clear. Article 1755 of the Civil Code of the Philippines states that "a common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances." While it is important for the investigation to proceed in order to determine liability on the part of the common carrier and other parties involved in these cases, the government has left many unanswered questions and appears not to have learned anything from past maritime disasters.

In June 2008, we witnessed the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars. What happened to this investigation? More importantly, what have the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard done to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening again? The President must explain why these common carriers have been allowed to operate when they are unable to exercise the standard of care mandated by our Civil Code.

An archipelagic country such as ours is obviously dependent on sea travel. Most of our citizens also prefer this mode of transportation due to its affordability. It is therefore incumbent upon the administration to ensure that government agencies tasked to monitor shipping companies do prevent those that are incompetent from setting sail.

We have seen too many people die as a result of this administration's inability or unwillingness to enforce the law. A government that repeatedly fails to ensure the safety of its citizens has no reason to continue in office.

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