Press Release
August 8, 2023

Poe: PH must adhere to highest maritime safety standards

Sen. Grace Poe said the government must ensure compliance to the highest maritime standards for the safety of passengers traveling by water.

Presiding over the inquiry of the Senate public services committee on the capsizing of a motor banca in Binangonan, Rizal, Poe lamented the tragedy "revealed serious maritime safety compliance lapses that need to be revisited."

"Maraming pagkukulang na dapat matagal nang tinugunan. It should not have cost us 27 lives for our maritime authorities to realize these implementation gaps," Poe said.

"In a country composed of thousands of islands, Philippines should have the highest safety standards in water transportation," she added.

Poe said the investigation aims to make those responsible for the incident accountable.

"Alam nating hindi lamang iisang tao ang may pagkakasala at dapat managot dito. This is a systemic failure borne out of the lack of proper implementation of existing maritime safety laws," she said.

The senator also questioned the standards used in determining the seaworthiness of boats in carrying passengers and sailing.

Seaworthiness also involves the presence of competent vessel crew knowledgeable about safety issues and who can respond to emergency situations.

The senator pointed out that Republic Act No. 9993 mandates the Philippine Coast Guard to bar any vessel from sailing if found non-compliant to the regulations.

"Hindi ba't ang hindi pagsuot ng life vest at pag-o-overload ng bangka ay paglabag na sa safety standard? Bakit walang pumigil dito," Poe said.

"Meron nga bang kakulangan sa batas na magbibigay liability sa shipowner at boat captain kapag nagkaroon ng mga insidenteng tulad nito? We want to know if there were cases in the past when the boat captain and the shipowner were held liable," she added.

A total of 27 passengers perished in the July 27 incident involving MB Aya Express which sailed from the Port of Binangonan en route to Talim Island in the Laguna de Bay.

Poe said reports were clear that the boat was allowed to sail despite being overloaded and with incomplete manifesto. The passengers had no life vests. It was also discovered that the captain had no valid license.

"Indeed, this is a recipe for disaster - an accident waiting to happen. And it did," Poe said.

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