Eight deadliest sea disasters happened in the country in the past two decades, including the worst maritime tragedy in history when MV Dona Paz collided with a tanker, killing more than 4,000 people in 1987.
A year after, MV Dona Marilyn, a sister ship of the ill-fated MV Dona Paz, sank after it was caught in Typhoon Unsang, killing 389 passengers.
In 1998, 150 passengers of MV Princess of the Orient perished after sank while sailing to Cebu during a typhoon off of Fortune Island in Batangas.
Also included in the list of maritime disasters were M/B Sunjay on January 15, 2006, M/B Leonida II on November 25, 2006, M/V Catalyn on June 10, 2007, M/V Blue Water Princess I on July 12, 2007 and M/V Don Wilfredo on February 14, 2008.
To avoid repeat of such incidents, Senator Bam Aquino calls for an investigation on the seaworthiness of maritime vessels to ensure safe and efficient operations and avoid maritime accidents as the country especially enters its rainy season.
“The national government has the duty to implement positive measures that can alleviate, if not resolve, the recurring maritime accidents over the past decades,” Aquino said in his resolution.
“It should give appropriate emphasis on the seaworthiness of the vessels being used by the shipping companies and must demonstrate stronger commitment in the effective implantation of the laws in order to safeguard the safety of the public,” he added.
Aquino said under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, carriers are bound before and at the beginning of the voyage to exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy.
“For a vessel to be seaworthy, it must be adequately equipped for the voyage and manned with a sufficient number of competent officers and crew,” the senator said.
Failure of a common carrier to maintain in seaworthy condition the vessel involved in its contract of carriage is a clear breach of its duty prescribed in Article 1755 of the Civil Code.
“The public relies on the care and skill of common carriers in the vigilance over the goods and safety of the passengers, especially because transportation has become more rapid, more complicated and somehow more hazardous,” Aquino stressed.