Shipping companies in Cebu mishap suspended
Malacañang on collision: Determine who is at fault

FIFTH TRAGEDY. The damaged Sulpicio Express Siete cargo ship. Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan

MANILA, Philippines – All vessels owned by 2GO and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp were suspended Saturday, August 17, following the deadly ferry collision in Cebu on Friday, August 16.

“Many of the ships are still out at sea but the directive is for these ships to be subjected to immediate inspection,” Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) head Maximo Mejia Jr said in a press conference on Saturday. 

The suspension order will facilitate the inspection of all vessels belonging to the two companies.

Mejia explained that he ordered all Marina regional offices to immediately conduct the inspection after reviewing relevant documents and the passenger capacity of the vessels owned by the two companies.  

At least 31 people died while at least 172 remain missing after MV Thomas Aquinas, a ferry operated by the Chinese-owned company 2Go, collided with Sulpicio Express 7, a cargo ship owned by the Go family, on Friday night, August 16.

Not the first suspension

This was not the first time that the shipping line owned by the Go family was suspended over a disaster.

Sulpicio Lines, the previous company name of Philippine Span Asia, was last suspended in 2008, after its ship MV Princess of the Stars set sail during a storm and sank with only about 50 of the 850 people on board surviving.

Other vessels owned by the company were also involved in 3 other tragedies, including MV Doña Paz, which collided with an oil tanker in 1987. The sea mishap left more than 4,300 dead, making it the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

But in an Agence France-Presse report, Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. chief executive and president Jordan Go maintained that the company’s history of tragedies is “immaterial” to the Friday night accident. 

Thorough investigation

Malacañang said it is aware of the shipping line’s track record but declined to further comment on the investigations so as not to influence their result.

“Aware naman po tayo doon sa mga ibang incidents dito. However, at this point, hindi po muna kami magbibigay ng komento. Mas mabuti pong hintayin po natin ‘yung magiging resulta nung mga imbestigasyon,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan.

(We are aware of the previous incidents. However, at this point, we will not give any comments. It would be better to wait for the result of the investigations that are being conducted.)

But Valte gave assurances that those who were responsible for the recent tragedy that has shaken the shipping industry will be held accountable.

“Since it is a maritime accident, that has to be determined (if who is) at fault,” Valte said.

In a press conference, Department of Transportation and Communications Sec  Joseph Emilio Abaya also vowed that a thorough investigation will be conducted to find out legal liability. – Voltaire Tupaz/