Another sea tragedy
"If Sulpicio Lines were a human being, it would be considered a “recidivist.” It has not been sanctioned and made to pay enough for the big toll in terms of lives lost in the three worst maritime disasters in the country since 1987. On Oct. 29, 1988 the Board of Marine Inquiry absolved Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz and found MT Vector at fault. In 1992, a Manila regional trial court held Sulpicio Lines “solely responsible” for the accident and ordered it to pay P1.2 million to the heirs of two victims. In 1996, the Court of Appeals absolved Sulpicio Lines of any liability and laid the blame on Vector and Caltex Philippines, which had leased the tanker. In September 2006 the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling ordering Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of an engineer who died in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz.
In the case of MV Doña Marilyn, the Board of Marine Inquiry said the disaster was due to force majeure or “an act of God,’’ and held no one responsible. In September 2000, the Department of Justice dropped the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of MV Princess of the Orient, saying that it could not be held criminally responsible for the accident.
What all these cases, including the latest tragedy, indicate is that there is a very low regard for the value of human life, a very loose and relaxed set of rules on clearances for sailing, and possible irregularities in the issuance of such clearances."