Monday, December 28, 2009


A ship tragedy. And then another one. The culprits? Inebriated ship captains and their crew, and the usual overloaded vessels.

Practically every ship owner is guilty of greed for overloading their vessels and making more profit while totally disregarding the safety and comfort of their paying passengers.

The government shares equal blame. This is one area in its operations where proper discharge of duties to protect the public is practically nil. Include in this accusation the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the maritime industry.

To picture vividly how ships are normally (over) loaded, passengers always say that they are packed four (4) to a bed while hundreds more sleep on the decks. This is the usual story about our inter-island ships. It is a wonder why they are still allowed to operate after ignoring the law for so long.

I recall passengers leaving for the Visayas telling me how they have to be on board at least a day before departure so they can assure themselves of space and how they have to shell out money to crew members who sell rights to beds and preferred areas like those near comfort rooms and the kitchen.

One wonders how such collisions still take place. It seems that the vast oceans aren't big enough at all for them. Blame it on grog perhaps, or plain and good old fashioned stupidity? And aren't these vessels supposed to be equipped with electronic safety equipment, especially radar to avoid accidents in the open seas, unless of course there are still vessels whose owners are so greedy they don't even care to spend for safety equipment and electronic devices.

And so, another investigation leading to another blank wall where no one really goes to jail for such crimes. For a change, the Marina authority and the Philippine Coast Guard must implement maritime laws in its strictest sense. It's time the government turn its attention to the deplorable state of sea travel in this country.

All ocean-going vessels which treat their passengers like cattle to the slaughter must be scrapped and forever banned from plying the high seas.

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