Press Release
July 31, 2023

Poe resolution seeks probe on Rizal boat capsizing

Sen. Grace Poe has filed a resolution to investigate the capsizing of MB Aya Express off the waters of Binangonan, Rizal which resulted in 27 deaths.

Senate Resolution No. 704 seeks to determine accountability for the July 27 tragedy and to find out whether maritime regulations have been followed.

"Those responsible for the death of the 27 individuals and the trauma of the 43 rescued victims should be held accountable for this incident," the chairperson of the Senate committee on public services said in her resolution.

"This tragedy revealed serious maritime safety compliance lapses that need to be revisited to determine whether the regulations are insufficient to provide and ensure safe voyage of individuals at sea or whether there is simply complacency in the implementation," she added.

Poe also pointed out the need for a National Transport Safety Board which she has been pushing for years.

The Board will independently investigate land, air and sea accidents and incidents, determine probable causes, and issue safety recommendations and studies to prevent their recurrence.

Poe said the probe will look into all relevant information to verify reports of overloading, for which the operator, shipowner, and boat captain could be held liable if proven true.

The same liability rests on the said individuals over statements by the surviving passengers that they were not provided life vests.

Poe said the Philippine Coast Guard could also face liability for its failure to monitor the number of passengers boarding the boat, validate the truthfulness of the manifest, and consider the harsh weather conditions despite the absence of a storm signal.

Poe stressed that the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) must abide by its mandate under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 9295 which states that: "All vessels operated by domestic ship operators shall at all times be in seaworthy condition properly equipped with adequate life-saving, communication, safety and other equipment operated and maintained in accordance with the standards set by Marina, and manned by duly licensed and competent vessel crew."

"We will find out if Marina did its job of inspecting the vessels and equipment on board to ensure compliance with safety standards," Poe said.

The MB Aya Express incident is the second maritime disaster this year after 33 people died in an 8-hour ferry fire in Basilan in March 2023.

"Despite being an archipelago, the Philippines has a poor maritime safety record with people dying in sea mishaps yearly, usually on board aging, wooden motor boats used for fishing or to move people from one small island to another," Poe added.

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