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101 Sons and Daughters

As always, how could we have been so not ready for the typhoon?

Over at Filipino Voices, at least some responsibility seems to fall at the PAG-ASA doorstep. Now i understand that the weather is unpredictable – I learned that much from the Sound of Music – but, as pointed out by the article I linked to, there was an easy way to narrow down the possibilities. In fact, the internet makes it almost criminal for the weather station not to have consulted other weather forecasters.

Because PAG-ASA didn’t seem to cover all its bases, the provinces were caught flat-footed, and it would seem that at least one province blew a major portion of its disaster preparedness money on a false alarm.

But I don’t think it’s all PAG-ASA’s fault. Especially when it comes to the Princess of the Stars. Although I believe the Coast Guard issued the proper warnings, I don’t think it’s off the hook. So, yeah, once the warning was issued to the vessel, it was the shipping lines’ call. The tragic thing for those dead – including 101 sons and daughters of Iloilo – is that the shipping line happened to be Sulpicio. That fact alone should have put the CG on alert.

It’s actually a source of amazement for me that Sulpicio is still plying the waters. Their safety record is so full of holes (pun intended) that their ships should have been beached by now.

In December 1987, some 4,341 people died when Dona Paz, an inter-island passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro Island. Sadly it was not to be the last sea tragedy in the Philippines, an archipelago of 7,107 islands.  In 1988, around 250 people died when Dona Marilyn, another passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines, sank. On April 11, 2002, at least 30 people were killed when MV Maria Carmella, which was bound from the island-province of Masbate for Lucena City in Quezon province, caught fire.

And yet, these temporarily floating coffins are still allowed to carry people. And you better believe that those motherfuckers are loaded to the scuppers, prolly flouting all known over-loading rules in existence. In fairness, we don’t know yet if the Princess was overloaded. My bet is that it was. And when that happens, I’m gonna come back and smack the Coast Guard upside their heads.

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3 Responses

  1. BrianB says:

    My forecast Fox showed storm clouds since Saturday and a long line of rainy days, but never suspected signal number 3.

  2. Typhoon struck the Philippines again as it is expected to do every year. But, it seems that we Pinoys never learn our lessons…we are as complacent as ever and our consciousness as usual are far from considering our safety and other people’s safety. We always welcome destruction with open arms. Unfortunately, yes, this is what most of us Pinoys are…

    It is true that we have been unfortunate to be in a country which is often hit by typhoons. But, should we always wait for something bad to happen before we do some real preventive actions. M/V Princess of Stars would not have capsized if we practiced extra precaution…Hundreds of people’s lives would not have been shed if in the first place our very own Philippine Coastguard did not allow them to travel aside from giving them the necessary warning. Same thing, lives would not have been destroyed if Sulpicio Lines did not allow its ferry to travel despite the possibility that typhoon Frank will be heading northeast of the Philippines. This is because there was also the very big possibility that it could be headed northwest.

    So, the unexpected happened. Frank went westward. Very sadly, the only thing we can do now is reconcile the facts and collect the missing bodies of hundreds of these poor Pinoys. Litigation may take place, damages can be paid for but the lives of those poor Pinoys can no longer be brought back. I guess we never learn our lessons…How pathetic can we be Pinoys? – Niknik

  3. Bencard says:

    i agree with most of what you said, niknik. but what do you do with people who fight tooth and nail to be allowed to “live” in the middle of railroad tracks, underneath bridges, on woobly garbage dumps, along the banks of flood prone rivers, or the foot of denuded mountains? what about people who would bribe, cajole, or other wise sneak in, to get a seat on an overloaded boat because “they have to get to their destinations” and they are not taking no for an answer?

    one thing that is both a strength and weakness of democracy is the inability of government to impose its will – good or bad – without due process of law. it’s easy for anyone to be a monday-morning quarterback and say “punish sulpicio and the coast guard”. but we, including the government, were dealing with “possibilities”.
    i don’t believe it’s a good thing to be paralyzed with fear because of the possibility that some tragedy would happen. the country will have to stand still. imagine a father of a family would not go to work because the traffic was so heavy and he might get into an accident? too bad, no one among us have the gift of foreknowledge.

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