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Did MARINA clear local coastguard in sea tragedy?

Did MARINA clear local coastguard in sea tragedy?
Ruby Silubrico -Monday, November 4, 2019

ILOILO City – Did the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) investigation on the capsizing of three motorboats at the Iloilo Strait on Aug. 3 clear the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Western Visayas?

Buenavista, Guimaras mayor Eugenio Reyes expressed dismay. He asked for a copy of the investigation result but MARINA instead gave him just a portion of it – the recommendations.

The agency was silent on culpabilities.

Thirty-one people – passengers of M/B Keziah, M/B Chichi and M/B Jenny Vince – died in the tragedy and the victims’ families were demanding accountability and explanations.

Part of Reyes’ letter to MARINA read: “Considering that your office spearheaded the investigation as to the surrounding circumstances that led to the accident, may we request that we be given a copy of the result of you investigation.”

Reyes told Panay News MARINA’s reply was disappointing.

“We were expecting answers from crucial questions such as why the motorboats capsized. Who should be held liable? Why was the third motorboat from our municipality allowed by the coastguard to go despite the two earlier capsizing? But what MARINA sent us were recommendations only. Disyamadago gid ako. Wala nila nasabat ang sulat ko. Lain ila gin sabat,” said Reyes.

The reply that Reyes received was signed by Assistant Secretary Lino Dabi.

“What happened to the coastguard personnel who were relieved right after the tragedy? Ano ang hatol sa ila? Wala lang?” asked Reyes.

The investigation should pinpoint those liable, stressed the mayor.

There were reports that the coastguard did not immediately halt all Iloilo-Guimaras boat trips after the first capsizing.

The first capsizing, at around 12:30 p.m. of Aug. 3, involved M/B Chichi and M/B Keziah. They were bound for Jordan, Guimaras from Iloilo City.

M/B Chichi had 47 passengers while M/B Keziah only had its four crewmen.

Three hours after, M/B Jenny Vince capsized. It was from Buenavista and was bound for Iloilo City. It had 40 passengers.

Included in the MARINA probe’s recommendations were the following:

* strict adherence to MARINA Memorandum Circular No. 180, rules governing passengers’ manifest
* adopt additional measures to ensure that passengers’ manifest contains the confirmed name of actual passengers on board
* ensure that every passenger on board is wearing lifejacket before and during entire voyage
* support the phase-out of wooden-hulled ships
* motorboat crew must undergo basic safety training especially on the proper use of distress signal apparatus and radio communication equipment

Reyes said he would again ask MARINA for the probe’s result.

Marino party-list, on the other hand, had insisted in August that the investigation must be thorough and impartial.

“Two passenger boats already capsized but the third one was allowed to proceed on its journey and also sank. I want to know where the problem lies. Are the protocols in place insufficient? Are boat captains not given enough information?” asked Cong. Sandro Gonzalez.

From an objective study of the “mistakes made in letting these boats sail”, Gonzalez said, “We will learn how to prevent further loss of lives.”/PN