Press Release
August 22, 2013


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today said that he will call for a Senate investigation into last Friday's (August 16) sea mishap off Talisay City in Cebu to determine ways to prevent the occurrence of the same in the future.

Describing the incident as an unfortunate accident, Pimentel said that it is important to address the problems causing ship collisions even when the ships are declared sea worthy to sail by regulatory authorities in clear weather conditions.

"I am told that the Lawis Ledge, a narrow and treacherous strait where it occurred, had been the scene of minor sea transport mishaps in the past," he said, referring to the site of the sea disaster.

Pimentel said that aside from the need to check on the capabilities of the ship captains involved, government agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard must adopt measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

"There should be a way to warn ships, ferries and other vessels passing through the area to slow down and take the necessary precautions so that vessels smash-ups are avoided," said Pimentel.

Pimentel noted that the same shipping company was involved in at least five major tragedies in the past, including the tragic sinking in 1987 of the ferry, Dona Paz which left more than 4,300 dead, then considered as the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.

The others were the Dona Marilyn which sank off Leyte amid a typhoon, killing more than 250 passengers, and the Princess of the Orient which sank in a port near Manila in similarly bad weather, leaving 150 casualties, both in 1988. The Princess of the Stars sank in the middle of a storm, claiming 50 victims.

All four ships were operated by Sulpicio Shipping Lines, Inc. that resumed operations in 2008 after getting suspended, carrying a new name Philippine Span Asia Carrier, Corp., owner of M/V Sulpicio Express Siete that collided with M/V St. Thomas Aquinas of 2GO Shipping Lines that sank last Friday and left behind more than 70 casualties by far.

Human error is not ruled out by Coast Guard officials as one of the possible reasons for the sea collision between M/V Sulpicio Express Siete and the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, an 11,405-gross ton cargo passenger ship which reportedly carried a total of 870 passengers and crew.

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