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Cebu News

Lawmaker wants review of shipping regulations

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A congressman in Metro Manila is calling for a review  current inter-island shipping regulations in the country in the aftermath of the collision between a passenger ship and a cargo vessel in Cebu City.

Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting filed House Resolution 221, which seeks to review existing practices in ship maintenance, crew training and accreditation, fleet age, as well as other factors.

Tambunting said that the move is aimed at coming up with legislative measures to mitigate the occurrence of fatal and environmentally destructive sea disasters.

“There must be proper accountability within the government and the inter-island shipping industry to help end this grisly history of tragedies at sea,” Tambunting said.

He said that over the years, several major sea accidents involving inter-island ferries have been documented, including the worst peace-time shipping disaster in the world, the sinking of the M/V Doña Paz in December of 1987, which killed more than 4,300 persons.

Tambunting said that the almost yearly occurrence of sea accidents involving inter-island shipping companies calls into question the existing measures to regulate the industry in general and the shipping companies in particular.

Despite the series of sea tragedies and the chain of investigations by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), as well as by the Board of Marine Inquiry, accidents at sea continue to occur, something that Tambunting said, is preventable.

He said the country’s archipelagic nature makes inter-island travel by sea-going ferries the primary mode of transporting people and cargo.

He said the collision of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and M/V Sulpicio Express Siete last August 16, 2013 happened in a narrow sea-lane, well known to the officers and crew of the vessels who regularly traverse this same route, and where existing protocols are presumed to be already in place to prevent accidents.

Earlier, the Province of Cebu declared a state of calamity due to the extreme environmental and health impact of the discharge of fuel, oil and other pollutants in the seas of Cebu as a result of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas sinking.

The Philippine Coast Guard and technical divers have already recovered 109 bodies of fatalities while others are still missing. —(FREEMAN)

BOARD OF MARINE INQUIRY

CEBU CITY

CITY REP

GUS TAMBUNTING

HOUSE RESOLUTION

MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY

METRO MANILA

PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

SEA

TAMBUNTING

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