Malacañang over the weekend assured families of the victims of the sinking of 2GO’s MV St. Thomas Aquinas that justice would be given to them and that the entities responsible would be held liable.
Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the pronouncement amid appeals by the families of the victims for Malacañang to expedite the resolution of the investigation on the sea mishap.
MV St. Thomas Aquinas sank near Cebu on August 16 after colliding with Philippine Span Asia Carrier’s (formerly Sulpicio Lines) Sulpicio Express Siete. The death toll from the incident has risen to 114.
Coloma assured that the agencies tasked to investigate the sinking—the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Coast Guard—are working to ensure that the kin of the victims would see justice done.
“Lahat ng mga ahensyang ito ay may mandato na tiyakin ang kaligtasan sa paglalakbay dagat [All of these agencies are mandated to ensure the safety of sea travel],” Coloma added.
The families of the victims earlier urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Vice President Jejomar Binay, through television and radio, to ask the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) to expedite their probes so that the culprits behind the accidents will be punished.
Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd, meanwhile, asked the aggrieved families for a little more patience, explaining that the investigation is tedious. He said that determining whether the mishap was caused by human error or the poor condition of the ships needs to be made first.
“We have to first determine whether [in]a plane crash if [it is]the fault of the airline or the pilots, whether the bus accident was because of the company or the driver. Same goes for ships,” he said.
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding Chairperson Dante Jimenez earlier warned of a repeat of the resolution of the 2008 sinking of MV Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, in Romblon.
Marina was about to suspend the franchise of Sulpicio Lines when the said carrier decided to rename itself as Philippine Span Asia Carriers. The change allegedly prompted Marina to give the carrier the go-signal to sail.
Jimenez asked the SBMI to consider this time all testimonies given by the passengers, the captains, and officials so that justice would be served to the victims of the August 16 sinking.
He also called on the media not to forget the tragedy amid the pork barrel scandal.
Jimenez considered the August 16 tragedy as one of the worst marine disasters that occurred in the waters of Cebu. He added that the whole nation is waiting for the results of the investigation on the incident headed by the SBMI, which is supposed to be submitted to DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya next week.
“We request Secretary Jun Abaya, a former Naval Officer, to ensure that there will be no suppression and omission of facts, just like the previous SBMI reports where the wind, the waves and weather are the ones blamed, so that the truth will come out,” said Jimenez.
“We owe it to families of the victims and those who died in this sea mishap. Tragic accidents should be avoided and stopped hence forth,” he added.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives filed motions for an investigation into the sea tragedy.
MARINA again allowed Sulpicio vessels to sail after the incident.