In a report issued by The Inquirer almost seven years after the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has issued a ruling banning the shipping firm Sulpicio Lines now under the name Span Asia Carrier Corporation from transporting passengers.
In its 50 page ruling, MARINA has cancelled the company’s Certificate of Public Convenience of the following:
-MV Sulpicio Express Dos
-MV Sulpicio ExpressTres
-MV Sulpicio Express Siete
-MV Sulpicio Container II
-MV Sulpicio Container VIV
-MV Span Asia I
-MV Span Asia 2
-MV Span Asia 3
-MV Span Asia 5
-MV Span Asia 7
-MV Span Asia 9
-other ships that may be added to its fleet
MARINA said its operations should be limited to cargo operations only.
The MV Princess of the Stars capsized on June 21, 2008 in the waters off Sibuyan Island in Romblon during the onslaught of the typhoon “Frank.” Out of the 851 passengers and crew onboard, only 32 survived.
Based in its ruling, the shipping firm failed to comply with the International Safety Management and showed indication of a poor implementation of its safety management system.
Among the non-conformities committed by Sulpicio Lines are the following:
Lack of compliance with their plans in key shipboard operations;
Lack of compliance with the company’s requirements to ensure maintenance of the ship equipment;
Lack of proper documentation related to requisitions on ship safety life-saving appliances and equipment etc.; and
Lack of coordination and support between shipboard and shore-based relative to ship safety operations and pollution prevention.
“As a result , the Maritime Safety Inspection Team concluded that all the deficiencies and non-conformities found are pointing to a possible failure of respondent to effectively [enforce] their safety management system,” MARINA said.
MARINA also dismissed the argument of the firm that the forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) made the accident fortuitous.
MARINA said MV Princess of the Stars said even if the Pagasa forecast has placed the ship directly in the path of the storm, it still has the opportunity to seek shelter but “it did not. Instead the ship sailed on.”
It was also discovered that the ship was carrying one 40 foot container filled with 400 boxes of Endosulfan, a corrosive substance which is considered as severe marine pollutant.
MARINA said the shipping firm failed to screen the containers and relied merely on documents presented by the owner of the chemicals.
“Is the failure of the carrier to have any or any adequate system of screening containers, amount to failure to provide safe, adequate, efficient, reliable and proper service at all times as required in the terms and conditions of its certificate of public convenience. The answer is in the affirmative,” MARINA said.
Aside from canceling its CPC, it also ordered the shipping firm to pay 800,000 peso fine for operating without permit to carry hazardous cargoes.