• House to probe Cebu ship collision

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    A lawmaker wants the House of Representatives to investigate the collision between the M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas and a cargo vessel in Cebu early this month that led to the death of dozens of passengers.

    Neophyte Rep. Gus Tambunting of Parañaque filed House Resolution 221 urging the
    House to look into the incident in aid of legislation.

    The resolution also expressed the House’s sympathies to the victims and their families.

    The Thomas Aquinas sank minutes after colliding with M/V Sulpicio Express Siete off Talisay, Cebu on August 16. Officials put the death toll at 80 with 51 passengers still missing.

    “The almost yearly occurrence of accidents at sea involving inter shipping companies that operate ferries of various sizes, causing the loss of thousands of lives, as well as severe and long lasting environmental devastation due to the effects of oil spills, calls into question the existing measures to regulate this industry and the shipping companies,” Tambunting said.

    He said the collision should not have happened, considering that the narrow sea lane where the incident occurred is known to the officers and crew of the vessels.

    Moreover, existing protocols are in place to supposedly prevent accidents at sea.

    Tambunting said the shipping industry’s policies, such as practices in ship maintenance, crew training and accreditation, fleet age, among others, should be reviewed to stop fatal incidents.

    “The tragic and unnecessary loss of life especially among the less fortunate of our countrymen who are the frequent passengers of these ferries, is deplorable. There must be proper accountability within government and the shipping industry to help end this grizzly history of sea tragedies,” the lawmaker added.

    The Philippine Coast Guard on Tuesday said 80 bodies had been retrieved. The search for the other missing victims continues as the weather conditions improved.

    With a report from Sheila Mañalac

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