Press Release
January 21, 2010

Gordon: Absolutely no governance in maritime industry
Incompetence and corruption cause loss of lives at sea

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon today said that the absence of governance in the maritime industry is appalling, as shown by the apparent failure of government agencies to protect the public who travel at sea.

"My mind and my whole being is aghast at the abysmal negligence of our government. There is no governance at sea in this country today--absolutely no governance! There is just greed, tolerance for the incompetent, the unsafe and the greedy. We are not going to allow that anymore," Gordon said during the blue ribbon committee hearing on maritime disasters.

"The object of this investigation is to protect the public. And with five hearings, we have seen the many cases of incompetence and corruption which are causing us more than money. It causes us the loss of many lives," he added.

The senator said that the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Insurance Commission (IC) have failed to protect the public, especially the victims of sea tragedies, because of their rules that are unfriendly to the people.

He said he could not understand why these agencies did not publish their rules that state that passengers who are not in the manifest will not be covered by the insurance companies, stressing that such policy seem to be pro-ship owner and anti-passenger.

"We cannot understand why the Marina and the Insurance Commission, in order to cure the evil of overloading, created a greater evil where the passengers who are not included in the manifest but are victims of maritime tragedies will totally have no way of recovering from insurance companies," Gordon said.

He stressed that there must be immediate remedy to other problems surrounding the maritime industry including the non-compliance to the submission of a complete passenger manifest before departure; the continued use of inland water ships in open seas; the manning of passenger ships by unlicensed captains; and the wanton disregard of safety rules such as proper lashing of vehicles in roll on-roll off vessels.

"We must ensure that there will be no deaths, no accidents at sea just because of the incompetence and greed of a few. The policy right now is pro-insurance company, pro-ship owner, and unfortunately, it is almost anti-passenger," Gordon said

"The government should be focused on its duty to protect the public interest, particularly in formulating passenger insurance policies, and in recommending to Congress the kind of insurance protection that our people deserve," he added.

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