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Mv Doña Paz Essay

The Doña Paz was built in 1963 by Onomichi Zosen of Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan, and was originally named Himeyuri Maru.[3] During the time it plied Japanese waters, it had a passenger capacity of 608 people.[4] In 1975, it was sold to Sulpicio Lines, a Filipino operator of a fleet of passenger ferries. It was renamed by Sulpicio Lines as the Don Sulpicio, and later, the Doña Paz.[4] One month before the accident, the vessel had undergone drydocking.[5] At the time of its sinking, the Doña Paz was sailing the route ofManila → Tacloban → Catbalogan → Manila and vice-versa, making trips twice a week.[6]

On December 20, 1987, at 0630H, Philippine Standard Time, the Doña Paz left from Tacloban City, Leyte, for the City of Manila,[6][7] with a stopover at Catbalogan City, Samar.[5] The vessel was due in Manila at 0400 the following day, and it was reported that it last made radio contact at around 2000.[7] However, subsequent reports indicated that the Doña Paz had no radio.[8][9] At around 2230H, Philippine Standard Time, the ferry was situated at Dumali Point, along the Tablas Strait, near Marinduque.[7] A survivor later said that the weather at sea that night was clear, but the sea was choppy.[5] While most of the passengers slept, the Doña Paz collided with MT Vector, an oil tanker en route from Bataan to Masbate. The Vector was carrying 8,800 US barrels (1,050,000 l; 280,000 US gal; 230,000 imp gal) of gasoline and other petroleum products owned by Caltex Philippines.[6] Upon collision, the Vector’s cargo ignited and caused a fire on the ship that spread onto the Doña Paz. Survivors recalled sensing the crash and an explosion, causing panic on the vessel.[7] One of them, a passenger named Paquito Osabel, recounted that the flames spread rapidly throughout the ship, and that the sea all around the ship itself was on fire.[5][7] Another survivor claimed that the lights onboard had gone out minutes after the collision, that there were no life vests to be found on the Doña Paz, and that all of the crewmen were running around in panic with the other passengers and that none of the crew gave any orders nor made any
attempt to organize the passengers.[5] It was later said that the life jacket lockers had been locked.[10] The survivors were forced to jump off the ship and swim among charred bodies in flaming waters around the ship.[11] The Doña Paz sank within two hours of the collision, while the Vector sank within four hours.[10] Both ships sank in about 545 meters (1,788 ft) of water in the shark-infested Tablas Strait.[12] It reportedly took eight hours before Philippine maritime authorities learned of the accident, and another eight hours to organize search-and-rescue operations.[10] ————————————————-

Only 26 survivors were retrieved from the water. Twenty-four of them were passengers from the Doña Paz while the other two were crewmen from the Vector’s 13-man crew.[5][13] None of the crew of the Doña Paz survived. Most of the survivors sustained burns from jumping into the flaming waters.[7] According to the initial announcement made by Sulpicio Lines, the official passenger manifest of the Doña Paz recorded 1,493 passengers and 60 crew members aboard.[4][11] According to Sulpicio Lines, the ferry was able to carry 1,424 passengers.[7] A revised manifest released on December 23, 1987, showed 1,583 passengers and 58 crew members on the Doña Paz, with 675 persons boarding the ferry in Tacloban City, and 908 coming on board in Catbalogan City.[12] However, an anonymous official of Sulpicio Lines told UPI that extra tickets were usually purchased illegally aboard the ship at a cheaper rate, and those passengers were not listed on the manifest.[4]

The same official added that holders of complimentary tickets and non-paying children below the age of four were likewise not listed on the manifest.[4][14] Survivors claimed that it was possible that the Doña Paz may have carried as many as 3,000 to 4,000 passengers.[4][11] They took as signs that the ferry was overcrowded with the fact that they saw passengers sleeping along corridors, on the boat decks, or on cots with three or four persons on them.[11] Of the 21 bodies that had been recovered and identified as passengers on the ship five days after the accident, only one of the fatalities was listed on the official manifest. Of the 24 passengers who survived, only five were listed on the manifest.[15] On
December 28, 1987, Representative Raul Daza of Northern Samar claimed that at least 2,000 passengers on board the Doña Paz were not on the ship’s manifest.[16] He based that figure on a list of names furnished by relatives and friends of missing people believed aboard the ferry, the names having been compiled by radio and television stations in Tacloban City.[16] The names of these 2,000+ missing passengers were published in pages 29 to 31 of the December 29, 1987, edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The eventual official death toll was later recorded at 1,749,[17] a figure which marked the accident as the second-deadliest ferry accident in history.[18] Nonetheless, it is generally accepted that the actual death toll was significantly greater.[17][18] The Supreme Court of the Philippines officially acknowledged in 1999 that the Doña Paz carried an estimated 4,000 passengers.[6] The 2008 edition of the World Almanac records the estimated lives lost at 4,341.[19] Given the estimated death toll, Time magazine and others have called the sinking of the Doña Paz “the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century”. Reactions and aftermath

President Corazon Aquino described the accident as “a national tragedy of harrowing proportions…[the Filipino people’s] sadness is all the more painful because the tragedy struck with the approach of Christmas”.[25] Pope John Paul II, Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom conveyed their official messages of condolence.[26] Sulpicio Lines announced three days after the accident that the Doña Paz was insured for ₱25 million (about US$550 thousand in 2011 dollars), and it was willing to indemnify the survivors the amount of ₱20 thousand (US$472 in 2011) for each victim.[27] Days later, hundreds the victims’ kin staged a mass rally at Rizal Park, demanding that the ship owners likewise indemnify the families of those not listed on the manifest, as well as to give a full accounting of the missing.[14] According to the initial investigation conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard, only one apprentice member of the crew of the Doña Paz was monitoring the bridge when the accident occurred.[28]Other officers were either drinking beer or watching television,[29] while the ship’s captain was watching a movie on his Betamax.[30] Nonetheless, subsequent inquiries revealed that
the Vector was operating without a license, lookout or properly qualified master.[10] The Board of Marine Inquiry eventually cleared Sulpicio Lines of fault in the accident.[13] In 1999, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled that it was the owners of the Vector who were liable to indemnify the victims of the collision.[6][13] Some of the claims pursued against either Sulpicio Lines or the owners of theVector, such as those filed by the Cañezal family (who lost two members) and the Macasas family (who lost three members) were adjudicated by the Supreme Court, which found that even the families of victims who did not appear on the official manifest were entitled to indemnity.[6][13] Caltex Philippines, which had chartered the Vector, was likewise cleared of financial liability.[6] The National Geographic Channel premiered a documentary on the MV Doña Paz entitled Asia’s Titanic on August 25, 2009.

Remembering Asia’s Titanic: The Doña Paz tragedy that killed over 4,000 in Dec 1987 What is the world’s worst peace-time maritime disaster? No, it’s not the sinking of the Titanic. It’s a disaster that happened 75 later, on the other side of the planet – in Asia. It is the sinking of the MV Doña Paz, off the coast of Dumali Point, Mindoro, in the Philippines on 20 December 1987. That night, the 2,215-ton passenger ferry sailed into infamy with a loss of over 4,000 lives – many of them burnt alive in an inferno at sea. Nobody is certain exactly how many lives were lost — because many of them were not supposed to be on that overcrowded passenger ferry, sailing in clear tropical weather on an overnight journey. Passenger ferries like the Doña Paz are widely used in the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia comprising over 7,000 islands.

They are among the cheapest and most popular ways to travel. Just 5 days before Christmas of 1987, hundreds of ordinary people boarded the Doña Paz for a 24-hour voyage from the Leyte island to Manila, the capital. The Doña Paz – originally built and used in Japan in 1963 and bought by a Filipino ferry company in 1975 — was authorized to carry a maximum load of 1,518 passengers. But the on the night of the accident, survivors say there may have been more than 4,000 people on board – a gross violation of safety procedures. Only 24 of them survived the journey — and only just. The entire crew and most of its passengers perished in an accident happened due to negligence, recklessness and callous
disregard for safety. For a summary compiled from several journalistic and activist sources, read on… The Doña Paz had an official passenger list of 1,493 with a crew of 59 on board. But later media investigations showed that the list did not include as many as 1,000 children below the age of four — and many passengers who paid their fare after boarding. The ship was going at a steady pace. The passengers were settling in for the night. The Doña Paz was scheduled to arrive in Manila by morning. A survivor later said that the weather that night was clear, but the sea was choppy. Around 10.30 pm local time, without any warning, the Doña Paz collided with another vessel. It was no ordinary ship: the MT Vector was en route from Bataan to Masbate, carrying 8,800 barrels of gasoline, diesel and kerosene owned by Caltex Philippines. Immediately upon collision, the tanker’s cargo ignited, setting off a massive fire that soon engulfed both ships. Thousands of passengers were trapped inside the burning ferry. Dozens of passengers leaped into the sea without realizing that the petroleum products had also set the surrounding seas ablaze. Those in the water had to keep diving to avoid the flames spreading on the surface. Of all the passengers and crew on board, only 24 survived. Everything known about this maritime disaster is based largely on their accounts – and investigative work done by a handful of journalists.

One survivor claimed that the lights onboard went out soon after the collision: there had been no life vests on the Doña Paz, and that none of the crew was giving any orders. It was later said that the life jackets were locked up beyond emergency reach. The few survivors were later rescued swimming among many charred bodies in the shark-infested Tablas Strait that separates Mindoro and Panay islands. The first help arrived at the scene around one and a half hours after the collision – it was another passing ship. By this time, most passengers of the ferry were dead. The Doña Paz sank within two hours of the collision, while the Vector sank in four hours. The sea is about 545 meters deep in the collision site. The Philippines Coast Guard did not learn about the disaster until eight hours after it happened. An official search and rescue mission took more hours to get started. In the days that followed, the full scale of the horrible tragedy became clear. The ferry’s owner company, Sulpicio Lines, argued that the ferry was not overcrowded. It also refused to acknowledge anyone other than those officially listed on its passenger manifest. Manifests on
Philippine inter-island vessels are notoriously inaccurate. They often record children as “half-passengers” or disregard them entirely. Corrupt officials frequently accept bribes to allow overloading. Many victims were probably incinerated when the vessels exploded and will never be accounted for. Rescuers found only 108 bodies, many of them charred and mutilated beyond recognition. More bodies were later washed ashore to nearby islands where the local people buried them after religious rituals. All officers on board the Doña Paz were killed in the disaster, and the two from the Vector who survived had both been asleep at the time. This left the field entirely to lawyers from all sides to endlessly argue over what went wrong, how – and who was responsible. It was later found that, at the time of the collision, both ships had been moving slowly: the Doña Paz at 26 km per hour, and Vector at 8 km per hour.

They were surrounded by 37 square km of wide open sea – plenty of time and space to avoid crashing into each other! Experts also wondered why the two ships had not communicated with each other before the crash. It is internationally required that all ships carry VHF radio. The Vector was found to have an expired radio license. The radio license for the Doña Paz was a fake. Survivors told investigators that the crew of the Doña Paz were having a party on board minutes before it collided with the oil tanker. Some reports suggested that the captain himself had been among the revellers. Being ordinary people, the passenger didn’t know details of maritime rank or procedure. It is likely that a mate or apprentice was steering the Doña Paz. Not a single crew member survived to tell their version of the incident. After a long and contentious inquiry, the investigators placed the blame on the Vector. Independent analyses have identified multiple factors that contributed to this tragedy: lack of law enforcement arising from corruption and connivance; under-qualified and overworked crew; telecommunications failures; and inadequate search and rescue efforts in the event of accidents. In August 2009, National Geographic Channel broadcast an investigative documentary titled Asia’s Titanic that tried to piece together the evidence and understand what happened. Directed by award-winning Filipino director Yam Laranas, it was the first for any Filipino filmmaker to direct a full-length documentary for the global channel noted for its factual films. Through dramatic firsthand accounts from survivors and rescuers, transcripts from the Philippine
congressional inquiry into the tragedy, archival footage and photos and a re-enactment of the collision, dissect the unfolding tragedy of Doña Paz. The 10-million Filipino peso project took more than 3 years to make, but even its makers could not find all the answers. “The truth may never be known. In the years after the Doña Paz tragedy, shipping disasters continue to plague the Philippines,” says the documentary as it ends. Meanwhile, nearly 25 years on, the struggle for justice for the victims and survivors is still on. Doña Paz victims waiting for justice 25 years after

BARUGO, LEYTE—The MV Doña Paz sank 25 years ago, but the scars on Zosimo de la Rama’s body always remind him of the pain and fear that he endured swimming in flaming waters for hours before he was rescued. De la Rama, 46, was one of the 26 people who survived the collision of the passenger ship Doña Paz and the oil tanker MT Vector that claimed more than 4,000 lives, the world’s worst maritime tragedy in peacetime. “Whenever I see the scars on my body, I cannot help but recall that tragedy,” De la Rama said in an interview in his home at Barangay Minuhang, a farming village 1.5 kilometers from the town center. “I thought it was the end of my life, but I held on to my faith, that God would help me survive that inferno,” he said. It has been a quarter of a century, but De la Rama and the other survivors and the families of those who perished are still waiting for justice. A class suit arising from the accident, which alleges negligence on the part of Caltex Philippines, charterer of the Vector, is dragging in a civil district court in the US state of Louisiana on a question of jurisdiction. It was filed in December 1988. Meanwhile, Sulpicio Lines Inc., which owned and operated the Doña Paz, has figured in four more maritime accidents that took hundreds of lives. In a bid to shake off its bad image, the company changed its name to Philippines Span Asia Carrier Corp. in 2010. The Doña Paz tragedy and the maritime accidents that came after it have led to the introduction of legislation in Congress that would modernize the country’s shipping industry. Among the proposals is a new maritime code, but the bill is stalled because of other priority measures.

Ill-fated trip to Manila
On the night of Dec. 20, 1987, the 2,250-ton MV Doña Paz was sailing through
Tablas Strait off Mindoro Oriental on its way to Manila on a trip that started from Tacloban, Leyte, carrying passengers who were trying to get home for the Christmas holidays. Its manifest listed 1,493 passengers and a 53-member crew, but survivor accounts showed that the vessel was carrying more than 4,000 passengers—more than twice its declared capacity of 1,518 passengers and 60 crew members. De la Rama, 21 years old at the time, and his sister-in-law, Sally Alipio, were among the passengers whose names did not appear on the manifest because they boarded the vessel at the last minute. They had been booked on the MV Tacloban, but the ferry that they took in Barugo called at Catbalogan port in Samar before proceeding to Tacloban. They missed Tacloban and had to take the Doña Paz, which left the city on Dec. 19. Sailing through the strait was the 629-ton, steel-hulled Vector, which was transporting 9,000 barrels of fuel products from Bataan to Masbate. The vessel had a 13-member crew. Despite a clear night and fine weather, the two vessels crossed paths at around 10:30 p.m. at Dumali Point, off the coast of Mindoro Oriental, with the Vector ramming the port side of the Doña Paz, setting off a fiery explosion. De la Rama remembered being stepped on several times as he crawled to the ship’s railings. He said he was shocked when he saw the water was also in flames. But he did not want to go down with the sinking ship, and decided to jump. “The whole place was burning. I heard cries for help. And I kept saying, ‘God, God, why is this happening?’ and I imagined Satan laughing at all of us,” he said. De la Rama swam for a floating log and clung to it. He had been in the water for eight hours when a Manila-bound passenger vessel, the MV Claudio, reached the site and picked him up. Only 26 people were rescued, 24 passengers of Doña Paz, including De la Rama, and two crew members of the Vector. De la Rama believes Alipio died in the accident. Her body was never found.

An investigation by the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) followed, and in March 1988, the board found against the Vector’s operator and owner, Francisco Soriano and Vector Shipping Corp. The board found that the company had no license to operate the vessel and that the crew was unqualified to run the tanker. Sulpicio Lines was absolved of any liability for the accident. The Senate and the House of Representatives conducted separate inquiries into
the accident, with each body finding shortcomings on the part of both the Doña Paz and the Vector, and exposing dangerous flaws in the Philippine maritime industry. Sulpicio Lines offered the survivors and the relatives of the dead and missing P30,000 in compensation, but in exchange for their agreeing not to sue the company. The relatives rejected the pittance and filed lawsuits against both Sulpicio Lines and Caltex Philippines.

Class suit
A group of survivors and relatives brought a class suit against Caltex and its parent company and affiliate companies in Texas and in Louisiana, alleging negligence in chartering the Vector, which had been found liable for the accident. The Texas suit was dismissed after a few years, but the suit filed in December 1988 in the Civil District Court for the Orleans Parish in Louisiana remains unresolved. The other defendants include Steamship Mutual, which had provided passenger liability insurance for the Doña Paz, Vector Shipping Corp. and Sulpicio Lines. The families of some of the victims mounted legal actions on their own.

SC ruling
In 1999 the Supreme Court First Division ordered Sulpicio Lines to pay the family of two victims—47-year-old public school teacher Sebastian Cañezal and his 11-year-old daughter Corazon—P1.2 million in moral and exemplary damages, lawyer’s fees and the lost future earnings. The court also held Vector Shipping and Soriano liable and ordered them to reimburse Sulpicio Lines Inc. whatever damages, lawyers’ fees and costs the company was ordered to pay to the Cañezals. The court also ruled that Caltex, as a charterer of the Vector, had no liability for damages under Philippine maritime laws. In another case, the Court of Appeals in 2006 affirmed a lower court ruling that ordered Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of geodetic engineer Maximo Lorenzo Jr., another victim of the tragedy. The amount included compensatory damages for lost earnings, legal fees and death indemnity. The most recent ruling involving the tragedy was handed down in July 2008. The Supreme Court Third Division found Vector Shipping liable and ordered it to reimburse Sulpicio Lines for damages worth P800,000 that the shipping company had been ordered to pay the family of spouses Cornelio and
Anacleta Macasa and their 8-year-old grandson Ritchie who perished in the accident. The Supreme Court ruling also took judicial notice of its 1999 decision exonerating Caltex from any third-party liability. The slow judicial process frustrated other families and they decided to accept small sums in out-of-court settlements.

Other tragedies
Following the Doña Paz tragedy, four vessels of Sulpicio Lines went down, further marring its reputation. The MV Doña Marilyn sank in October 1988, claiming 150 lives; the MV Boholana Princess went down in December 1990 but no casualties were reported; the MV Princess of the Orient sank in September 1998, costing 150 lives; and the MV Princess of the Stars sank in June 2008, leaving 800 people dead or missing. The Princess of the Stars tragedy compelled the government to ground the entire fleet of Sulpicio Lines, but later limited the freeze to only some of the company’s vessels.

Doña Paz MV was a passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector on December 20, 1987. The Doña Paz was en route from Catbalogan, on Samar Island, Philippines, to Manila when, while it was in the Tablas Strait, between the islands of Mindoro and Tablas, it collided with a small oil tanker, the Vector, which was carrying 8,800 barrels of petroleum products. The Vector´s cargo ignited and caused a fire that rapidly spread onto the Doña Paz, which sank within minutes. Two of the 13 crew members aboard the Vector survived but all 58 crew of the Doña Paz died. The official death toll on the ferry is 1,565 although some reports claim that the ferry was overcrowded and that the true death toll at least 4,341. The ships would put the death toll at 4,375 although admitting that only 1,568 were on the manifest (still more than the licensed maximum of 1,518). The 21 (or 24) survivors from the ferry had to swim, as there was no time to launch lifeboats. An inquiry later revealed that the crew of the Vector was under-qualified and that the boat´s license had expired. It is the worst ferry disaster and the worst peace-time maritime disaster in history.

Sulpicio Lines (now Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation – PSACC),
notorious for overloading their vessels, is the company that holds the world record for the highest peacetime death toll of any shipping line of all times, killing more than 5,300 people. Their passengers manifest is false and when carrying highly toxic chemicals, they are not mentioned. The company is called ‘Suspicious Lines’ instead of ‘Sulpicio Lines’ by the press. Despite all the disasters and misery this company created, they were never held liable by the Philippine courts.

MV Dona Paz: “Asia’s Titanic” 20th December 1987
The perils of travel always loom as the fangs and claws of devilish men wander the season. Lest we forget…
Christmas and New Year are Holidays Filipinos value the most. Undeniably, the best opportune ever… Gifts, food, friends… family! To some or many, all aches and shortcomings forgiven and forgotten, or merely just held in abeyance, if only as far as the last byte of the streaming Christmas carols. The records of the Titanic tragedy were accidentally challenged in 1987, when only 26 of about 4,000 passengers (24) and crew (2) of “the worst peace-time maritime disaster of the 20th century” survived. That was 20 December 1987, Philippines. At 0630H, MV Doña Paz sailed from Tacloban City, Leyte due for Manila 0400H the next day. All never could have known that that was its final voyage. It was few days before Christmas. MV Dona Paz was filled to the neck. Overbooked with about non-listed 2,500 passengers. At sea, the weather was clear but the sea was “choppy”.

While most were asleep and cold, back-laden in all sides of the ship, and without warning, MV Dona Paz collided with MT Vector, an oil tanker loaded with 8,800 barrels of gasoline and other petroleum products owned by Caltex Philippines. Almost instantly, the flames spread rapidly throughout the ship. It was a sea of fire! Darkness, panic, and shock ….”Life jacket lockers had been locked” and “passengers were forced to jump off the ship and swim among charred bodies”. Within two hours from the time of collision MV Dona Paz sank. MT Vector was doomed within four hours … Down to the floors of the 545 meters deep-cold-shark-infested Tablas Strait at Dumali Point. It was 2230H, Philippine Standard Time. “It reportedly took eight hours before Philippine maritime authorities learned of the accident, and another eight hours to organize search and rescue operations”.

But, only26 people (24 were passengers of MV Dona Paz, 2 were crews of MT Vector) survived. The joy of coming home and anticipated celebration were suddenly cut and halted … entombed in grief and the unending unknowingness of the missing and the lost. It was a soul-wrecking tragedy … it happened and will remain a forewarn to all who travels whether by sea, land or space how painful it might be. Why did it happen? Why to the victims? …. I also do not have an answer. But one thing is clear, life is a mystery… There is a beginning and there is the end … unknown but certain …. the thing is we are merely travellers and we have the moments in our hands … to cherish not just for this season. To the victims of tragedies… Their kin and friends… My prayers. To the responsible, the Authorities and co-travellers …. It pays to never forget, if only to learn from.

“A national tragedy of harrowing proportions… [the Filipino people’s] sadness is all the more painful because the tragedy struck with the approach of Christmas.” – Former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, Philippines. “The Asia’s Titanic” – National Geographic Channel

Asia’s Titanic: MV Doña Paz Documentary Premieres at NatGeo Channel It was five days before Christmas in 1987 in a calm night in the Philippines MV Doña Paz of Sulpicio Lines set sail from Tacloban in Leyte to Manila. It was another Christmas vacation ferry trip when all of a sudden, it collided with an oil tanker off-coast of Mindoro, creating a fireball and inferno that claimed almost five thousand souls and only twenty four remain. A Christmas to remember…and claimed the title at the Guinness World Record as “The Worst Peace-time Maritime Disaster.” It was indeed Asia’s answer to the infamous Titanic. This is what the Filipino director Yam Laranas wanted to share to the rest of the world after three years of research and production. Stories about how only a handful from the more than four thousand people, survived and lived to tell the tale and the search for the answers on the disaster which has been etched in Philippine and international maritime history. The first full-length National Geographic docu-drama that is 100% Filipino made, gave another reason to look back on the issues of our maritime safety of our country…an archipelago republic at the Pacific. Somehow though, the documentary did gave a hanging question though…what were the improvements
that were done after this disaster? Seeing some video footage of angry relatives storming Pier 12 of Sulpicio Lines, is very reminiscent of what happened last June 2008 when MV Princess of the Stars (yes, it’s a Sulpicio ship) capsized off Romblon while venturing the rough seas with only a handful survived (again). The survivors and the relatives of those who died or still missing still cries for justice. Twenty years after, even if Board of Marine Inquiry blamed the oil tanker for the death of the passengers…the question of safety is still hanging. “Asia’s Titanic” will premiere at National Geographic Channel on 25th of August, Tuesday, 9:00PM (Philippine Standard Time).

Ship sinkings have cost 6,000 lives, millions in losses
THE sinking of at least eight passenger vessels owned by various shipping lines in the past 26 years has claimed more than 6,500 lives and resulted in hundreds of millions of pesos worth of properties lost at sea. Two of these eight maritime disasters were collisions just like what happened to m/v St. Thomas Aquinas of the 2Go Group Inc. and m/v Sulpicio Express Siete of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. last Aug. 16. Last week’s tragedy has resulted in almost 60 people confirmed dead so far. The first collision of ships on record was in December 1987 involving m/v Doña Paz of Sulpicio Lines Inc. (now Philippine Span Asia) and oil tanker m/v Victor in the seawaters off Mindoro. The collision resulted in the death of 4,386 Doña Paz passengers, making it the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster. The second collision was on Dec. 2, 1994, involving m/v Cebu City of William Lines Inc. and Singaporean freighter m/v Kota Suria in the Manila Bay. The accident claimed the lives of 140 people.

The other maritime accidents happened during bad weather.
On Oct. 23, 1988, less than a year after the collision of Doña Paz and Victor, m/v Doña Marilyn, also of Sulpicio Lines, sank off Leyte at the height of typhoon Unsang, killing 300 passengers. On Sept. 18, 1998, m/v Princess of the Orient, also of Sulpicio Lines Inc., sank off Bataan during tropical storm Gading while sailing from Manila to Cebu. The incident claimed 453 lives.

In June 2008, m/v Princess of the Stars sank off Romblon, killing more than 800 passengers. In February 2004, m/v Super Ferry 14 of Aboitiz Transport System (ATS) was burned and sank off Manila, resulting in the death of 116 people. On Nov. 23, 1983, or three months after the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was shot at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, m/v Doña Cassandra of Gothong Shipping Lines sank in the Bohol Sea while sailing from Nasipit, Agusan del Norte to Cebu at the height of typhoon Warling. About 167 people died in that accident. On Dec. 23, 1999, m/v South Korea sank in the seawaters off Bantayan Island, Cebu. About 45 people died out of the 606 passengers and 54 crew members on board. Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella was one of the survivors of the Princess of the Orient tragedy. He was then a Cebu City councilor. Fifteen years after he survived, Labella filed a resolution in the Cebu City Council urging the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to get their acts together and review the maritime safety policies, citing a rise in marine accidents involving passenger ships. Labella had found out that aside from negligence and incompetence of ship crews, there is also the inefficiency and inability of government agencies to ensure maritime safety.

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