Press Release
August 30, 2013


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today stressed the need for more safety measures to prevent maritime disasters triggered by unfortunate collisions of passenger or cargo ships as he sought a Senate inquiry into the tragic mishap off Talisay City in Cebu which left 81 dead and 39 others still missing from the sunken ferry St. Thomas Aquinas.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 206 recently, Pimentel said the Senate probe hopes to bring about changes in the country's maritime laws to address the problems causing ship collisions in order to ensure both the safety of the passengers and crew members and to prevent the destruction of the country's dwindling marine resources.

Aside from the loss of life and property, Pimentel said that the accident last Aug. 16 in the waters of Lawis Ledge has caused untold and incalculable ecological sea damage because of oil leakage from the more than 20,000 liters of diesel fuel, 120,000 liters of bunker fuel and 20,000 liters of lube oil that have spread into the seas of Cebu province. The Lawis Ledge is a treacherous, narrow strait that was the scene of several minor accidents in the past.

Pimentel said that he would push for an extensive review of the protocols and procedures used for vessels travelling the waterways in view of reports that the collision of the ill-fated St. Thomas Aquinas with the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete might have been caused by human error as both vessels were earlier declared seaworthy to sail in clear weather.

He said there also is a need to check on the capabilities of the ship captains, who have both filed suits and countersuits, involved in the mishap so that government agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard could introduce and adopt new measures to prevent the occurrence of the same incidents in the future.

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