Ridon asks MARINA: Why are we allowing 40-year old ships to ply our seas?
MANILA, 17Aug2013 – Appalled with the tragic sea mishap in Cebu involving passenger ship MV St. Thomas Aquinas and cargo ship MV Sulpicio Express 7 last night, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said he will file a resolution calling for the review of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) supervision and regulation of the operations of water transport utilities in the country.
Ridon, who is a member of the House Committee on Transportation, said that he will file a resolution next week seeking for an investigation of the sea collision that left at least 24 dead and hundreds more injured. The legislator said that the investigation would involve officials of MARINA and the Coast Guard, who will be asked to report on the status of regulation of sea vessels in the country.
“The fact that we are allowing 40-year old ferries like MV St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that something is amiss in the supervision and regulation of water transport vessels in the country. A rigorous review of MARINA’s performance as a regulatory body is in order,” Ridon said.
By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 474, MARINA is tasked to “provide for the effective supervision, regulation and rationalization of the organizational management, ownership and operations of all water transport utilities and other maritime enterprises” in the country.
“We should also investigate the sea worthiness of our inter-island passenger vessels and look into the overcrowding practice of some of these ferries and vessels. We need to ask the Coast Guard why they cleared MV St. Thomas Aquinas for travelling if there’s an apparent discrepancy between the passenger manifest and the actual number of passengers,” Ridon said.
The legislator added that the certificates of public convenience of the owner of MV St. Thomas Aquinas should be cancelled if neglect has been proven on their part.
“In an archipelago like the Philippines, it is ironic that we have lax water transport regulations. It is time for Congress to look into this issue to prevent future disasters of even greater magnitude,” Ridon remarked.