Senator Raffy Tulfo demanded accountability for the reported death of 27 passengers of Motorbanca Princess Aya that capsized off Binangonan, Rizal on Thursday, July 27.
It was reported that Princess Aya’s maximum capacity is only 30 passengers but it was allowed to sail with about 70 passengers on board without enough life vests, in addition to bad weather conditions.
Tulfo said the relevant government authorities, including the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), that allowed this tragedy to happen should not get off the hook.
“Pinayagang maglayag ang lumubog na bangka kahit na masama ang panahon, overloaded at walang sapat na live vest dito.”
“27 na buhay ang nasawi dahil sa lumubog na bangkang Princess Aya. Nangyari ito sapagkat naging pabaya na naman ang mga awtoridad tulad ng PCG at MARINA. Na gaya sa mga nakaraang trahedya sa karagatan, pinayagang maglayag ang lumubog na bangka kahit na masama ang panahon, overloaded at walang sapat na live vest dito,” the legislator said.
“Bukod sa may-ari ng bangka at mga tripulante nito, dapat mayroon ding masampolan na mga taga PCG at MARINA dahil sa paulit-ulit nalang na pangyayaring ito at tila nananadya na sila,” the lawmaker added.
The senator from Isabela and Davao lamented that the sunken ship or boat’s crew members are often the ones punished and sent to jail, and in most cases, the boat owners get away with their lapses.
“Puro imbestigasyon na lamang hinggil sa kapabayaan ng PCG at MARINA at wala pa talagang nasasampolan sa kanila.”
“Ang masaklap pa, puro imbestigasyon na lamang hinggil sa kapabayaan ng PCG at MARINA at wala pa talagang nasasampolan sa kanila,” he said.
He likewise maintained that this is not the first time that something bad and fatal happened due to the negligence of maritime authorities, but not a single person from the PCG and MARINA has been held accountable and imprisoned for their neglect that caused harm to passengers.
It may be recalled that in a Senate hearing last March 14, Tulfo also berated the PCG personnel who allowed MT Princess Empress to sail without permit to operate.
The sinking of said tanker caused a massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro and other areas, and affected 172,928 individuals with some of whom acquired injuries or illnesses.
That’s why he drafted a Senate Resolution to ensure that the PCG and MARINA, along with its officers are held accountable in the name of command responsibility whenever a ship or a boat sinks due to negligence.