SHIPPING firm 2GO has filed a petition before the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), seeking to be relieved of any responsibility over the sinking of their passenger vessel, MV St. Thomas Aquinas on August 16 that resulted to the death of at least 116 passengers.
In their nine-page petition, Lawyer Denise Luis Cabanos said the incident should be solely blamed on Philippine Span Asia Carrier Inc., formerly known as Sulpicio Lines, and the cargo ship and crew of Sulpicio Express Siete.
The petition argued that based on the testimonies of the crew and captain of MV St. Thomas Aquinas and other witnesses, extra-ordinary diligence was made on their part, “before, during and after the collision.”
“The collision would not have occurred if not for the gross negligence of the owners, officers and crew members of Sulpicio Express Siete,” the petition said.
“At all material times, MV St. Thomas Aquinas [hereinafter "STA”]was traveling at a safe speed with due regard to the prevailing circumstances. Whether or not light and/or sound signals were made before the collision could not have had any causative effect regarding the collision,” it added.
Marina on Friday began its own investigation into the collision between MV St. Thomas Aquinas and Sulpicio Express Siete, as well as the cancellation of Philippine Span Asia Inc.’s franchise.
Initial reports said the captain of Sulpicio Express took the lane of the outgoing vessels from the Cebu Port, thus resulting to the collision. The captain, however, denied the allegation.
The investigation also yielded that MV Sulpicio Express Siete violated pilot assistance, as confirmed by Cebu Port Harbor Pilot. Also, the ship would have not have been in the inbound lane prior to and during the incident if the harbor pilot has boarded and guided the vessel on its way out of Cebu Port.
Reports added that MV Sulpicio Express Siete’s alleged request for the transfer of channels might have also contributed to the disaster since the cargo ship failed to acknowledge MV Thomas Aquina’s distress call.
The Philippine Span Asia Carrier Inc. has been involved in at least 46 fatal maritime incidents since the sinking of MV Doña Paz in 1987, which remains to be the world’s “worst maritime disaster” with more than 4,200 passengers killed.