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Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Continuing Tragedy

It's apparent that the owners of Sulpicio Lines are going to try every trick in the book to wriggle out of taking the blame for the sinking of the "Princess of the Stars".

Now, their legal guns are trained on the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Their argument was that PAGASA didn't send out a warning to the shipping company regarding the change of the typhoon's track. Therefore, Sulpicio's lawyer argues, PAGASA is guilty of negligence.

First of all, the question must be asked: why did Sulpicio Lines let the Princess of the Stars set sail, despite the fact that there was a typhoon, and that other shipping companies, Superferry and Negros Navigation, docked their ships in anticipation of the typhoon? The answer, for me, at least, is that Sulpicio Lines was probably trying to make a quick buck by getting some of the passengers from those companies.

Second, I think it should be clear to the owners of Sulpicio Lines that typhoons, from experience, can deviate from their expected path, and, being in the shipping industry, as well as having experienced three tragic accidents in the past, shouldn't the owners of Sulpicio moved more cautiously?

A second problem, which will add to the owners' burden, is the discovery yesterday of 10 metric tons of endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, which was not previously revealed by the owners. Aggravating the situation is that the Princess of the Stars, being a passenger ferry, is not authorized to carry such goods, despite Sulpicio owners' protestations to the contrary.

This poses a grave environmental threat to the surrounding area. If any of the pesticide containers should leak, it would damage the ecological balance even worse than the Guimaras oil spill two years ago.

I wonder how the owners' lawyer is going to spin this one off. One thing is becoming clearer and clearer. Sulpicio Lines cannot be allowed to get off lightly this time around, given its spotty track record.

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