I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

No better time than now

Over at Filipino Voices, Marck wrote:

To me, at least, now is not the time to go after the Sulpicio Lines owners, strap them to the stocks and pillory, and throw rotten tomatoes at them before they get hanged publicly for making the bingo. There will always be time for the scathing rage that comes from the indignation following a tragedy. There will always be time to accuse. I still believe in the inherent goodness of people to add up to donations, to help out in whatever way they can.

I disagree. There is no time like the present to beat Sulpicio Lines senseless and blast it out of the water for good.

Two reasons. First: if you wait until public outrage dies down, the movement to tear that murderous shipping line to shreds loses momentum. Without the unflattering attention of mainstream media, the regulators jump right back into bed with the regulated, and the ships of death sail on. I mean, even in the midst of this outrage, didn’t Sulpicio even have the chutzpah to say that it would continue to sell tickets despite a beaching order?

Second, there is no reason why the ‘scathing rage’ cannot be stoked while the gentler passions of charity and love are also being paid attention to. Being angry should not mean being rooted to one spot just churning out bad vibes. That lady who gave part of her NFA ration? Hell, she was prolly pissed as hell about Pag-Asa – if it weren’t for their crappy predictions, she’d be bringing home her full ration instead of having to share it with the poor bastards in the provinces. Because let’s face it: giving is never easy. That’s what makes the act of giving so heroic – you’re giving even if it bites you. Besides, it’s always irritating when the incompetence of other people cause an inconvenience in our own lives; doubly so when that incompetence – as in the case of Pag-Asa and Sulpicio – proves fatal.

So, the government – and everyone else who cares a damn about how things ought to be – should give succour with left hand and, with the right, bring down the almighty motherfucking hammer of god.


Filed under: musings, , , , ,

21 Responses

  1. Jeg says:

    Let me play devil’s advocate here (or party-pooper if you prefer). What exactly is Sulpicio’s fault in this case. Forget about its past tragedies. What did Sulpicio do in this case of the sinking of the Princess of the Stars due to Typhoon Frank? Both the Marina and the Coast Guard gave them the go-ahead to sail. They sailed. The ship wasnt overloaded. They did everything by the book. So what exactly did they do ‘wrong’ except rely on the Marina and Coast Guard who relied on Pagasa? You didnt think the captain wouldve sailed anyway if he knew they were running smack dab into the storm, would you? It’s Force Majeure.

    But that is beside the point. Theyre toast because the guvmint needs the good PR blaming it on Sulpicio gives them.

  2. rom says:

    jeg: You can’t discount the past tragedies. That shit goes to proving how Sulpicio makes decisions, which is to say, they make decisions based on maximum profitabilty. You say they did everything by the book? I say based on their track record, it is his highly likely that they would have sailed right into the storm if they thought they could get away with it. Just like they would overload a vessel if they thought they could get away with it.

    Oh and, force majeure only applies when there’s no contributory negligence. Are you then, clearing Sulpicio of any contributory negligence, counsel? Because, last I heard, they haven’t even started the hearings yet.

    And on a final note, it is funny how even the worst offenders become martyrs when government trains its sights on them. You’re judgment of Sulpicio’s non-accountability clearly stems from your assumption that the government is using the tragedy as a PR opportunity.

    While the PR potential is inevitable, would you really prefer it if the government said nothing? More to the point, are we such sheep that we cannot raise a protest against a company that tolerates mercenary decision making? Does the fact that the government can come off looking good make the mercenary bent of Sulpicio any less of a threat to the public?

  3. Jeg says:

    Good points, counsel. But I imagine that this is how it’ll be played :

    First of all, Sulpicio has a record of sea mishaps, but the fact that they are still plying their routes means they have been cleared de facto. This present case is different and evidence of its past record should not be admitted as proof of their negligence on this particular case.

    Force majeure is Sulpicio’s defense ergo they are claiming no contributory negligence. You are assuming negligence but last I heard they havent event started the hearings yet.

    As for ‘worst offenders’, whether or not they are an offender still has to be proven, yes? No hearings yet, remember?

    By the way, Im not defending Sulpicio. I dont care if they run out of business tomorrow. In fact I do think they have a lot to answer for in this case. Their record sucks to say the least. Im saying, from a legalistic standpoint, they have a case. But theyre toast from a PR standpoint. My ‘judgement’ of Sulpicio’s non-accountability stems from my assumption that they may — may — not really have accountability. Has nothing to do with the government using this as a PR opportunity.

    Now on to the other questions in the last paragraph: Would I prefer if the government said nothing? Youre creating a false dichotomy between ‘Blame Sulpicio’ and ‘Say nothing’. In an ideal world Id prefer the government to say, “We’ll get to the bottom of this and if someone is liable, bring me his head on a pike.” And then actually getting to the bottom of it.

    “Are we such sheep blah-blah-blah…?” Again I have to go all legalistic on you on this one because youre already assuming there was mercenary decision making in this case, but no we are not sheep and we can raise a protest and accuse Sulpicio based on their record. I just dont there’s enough there to stand up in court.

    “Does the fact that government can come off looking good…?” Assuming they have a mercenary bent, no.

    Anyway, let’s wait for Bencard. Maybe he’ll weigh in on this.

  4. cvj says:

    Rom, relax Jeg is just taking a meta-position which is after all a very Filipino thing to do

  5. Jeg says:

    Meta position. Is that the same as ‘playing devil’s advocate’?

    Anyway, if Sulpicio does get the ax and is finally out of business, we can all chalk it up to karma for their past sins, even if we can’t chalk it up to this present sin, if indeed they erred in this case.

    I did ride a Sulpicio ship years ago on my way to Mindanao (to Ozamis via Tagbilaran and Dumaguete) and the ship was severely overcrowded. As in severely. They kept selling tickets even if there werent enough space and people were sleeping in the hallways and on the deck, exposed to the elements. It was only after people got off in Tagbilaran when those in the hallways and on the deck got their bunk beds.

    Before we left, I was witnessed something curious: I was on the upper deck and Coast Guard personnel in uniform were ushered into the — whatever you call that place where the captain is — the bridge, I think — and left a few minutes later. We headed off to sea but crewmen from the ship instructed those on the deck to keep their heads down until he gave the signal that it was okay to stand up again. The decks were crowded of course and it was a major operation to have all those people duck so that they won’t be seen. When the ship was a safe distance away, the crew member told everybody it was okay to stand up again.

    It was smooth sailing all the way.

  6. rom says:


    Dealing with your points in seriatim:

    First, I’ve already said that the fact that Sulpicio is still operating is a government failing. Therefore, I would argue that their continued operation should not be considered as proof of their having been absolved, but as proof that the system failed in the past.

    Second, the track record may not be directly related to this case as any sort of proximate cause, but it establishes a trend of negligence leading to fatal consequences, thereby bolstering the case the negligence once again played a factor in this particular incident.

    Third, the boat was capsized by strong waves brought about by the typhoon. Under ordinary circumstances, waves of such magnitude would not have been existent. Moreover, waves of such magnitude were not present in areas not affected by the typhoon. It is clear therefore, that had not the vessel sailed into the typhoon, there would have been no possibility for the incident to occur. Res ipsa loquitur, counsel; and more than enough to create at least a disputable presumption of guilt.

    Fourth, the ‘worst offenders’ bit is an aside. Nevertheless, even assuming that Sulpicio still has its day in court, your comment clearly demonstrates the tendency of anti-government types to bring up presumptions of innocence in favor of those the government criticize, while remaining silent about those same presumptions when government is on the receiving end of criticism.

    Fifth, does Sulpicio have a case? Of course it does. Whatever gave you the idea that I don’t think so?

    Sixth, It was a Sulpicio vessel, sailing into a typhoon, after receiving the necessary warnings from the Coast Guard. Why pussyfoot around what needs to be done?

    Seventh, accuse Sulpicio based on their record. I was under the impression that that was exactly what I was doing. Is there enough to stand up in court? The court’s final decision will make that judgment, eh? First order of business is to get to court in the first place.

    And ultimately, that’s the point of this post – and even longer comment. It would be wrong to ease up on those who have the cloud of guilt hanging over them, simply because we are too distraught over the dead. Whether or not there is enough to actually beach Sulpicio for good – well, we can all have our individual opinions on that.



  7. […] think everyone shares smoke’s sentiments that Sulpicio Lines should get it, right now, but the only way to get it seems […]

  8. cvj says:

    Jeg, it’s more like taking the [perceived] middle (however it’s defined) of two opposing positions. I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad btw.

  9. Jeg says:

    Ok, enough of this counsel crap. Gives me the creeps. (No offense, Bencard.) 😀

    …your comment clearly demonstrates the tendency of anti-government types to bring up presumptions of innocence in favor of those the government criticize, while remaining silent about those same presumptions when government is on the receiving end of criticism.

    I was about to react to this one but come to think of it, yeah. You nailed me on this one, rom. That’s exactly what I am: an anti-government type. (You have no idea. 😉 )

    On meta-position: Got it. Thanks, cvj. In fact sometimes it’s not even a middle position; just a position different from the two opposing sides that tend to shed light on them. I never noticed that as a Filipino trait though. Which could mean we’re so used to it that we pay it no heed.

  10. BrianB says:

    What the hell are you guys babbling about?

  11. rom says:

    *drops a curtsy to jeg*

    *and smiles*

  12. marck says:

    uh, rom… all i was saying in that entry is that we should help in whatever way we can (never mind that it left me a bit depressed afterwards, really). let’s not bash when people are starving, when people lose friends and family from a sick tragedy.

    although come to think of it, you raise a very good point. maybe i’m just too much of a softy when it comes to things like these.

  13. rom says:

    marck: welcome to the smoking room! i’m sorry if my post sounded like i was dissing. Not at all. I liked your post, even if I disagreed with parts of it.

  14. rom says:

    everyone: did anyone else like that “almighty motherfucking hammer of god?” LOL!!!

  15. BrianB says:

    Rom, I prefer that meta crap Jeq just regurgitated like someone who just graduated from UP or some plagiarizing movie critic kuno.

  16. cvj says:

    rom, as a self-confessed ‘anti-government type’, i happen to agree with your position so i don’t think your generalization holds. i’m not a stickler for legal niceties though since that plays to Sulpicio’s strength. They should get tried in the People’s Court.

    Jeg, you’re definition is more accurate. Anyway, that trait is as old as Balagtasan where the opposing protagonists argue position X and Y until someone (usually a lady) steps in and concludes the debate with position Z.

  17. Bencard says:

    rom, i remember there is a special feature in philippine law where a public conveyance may be sued under a contract theory (breach of contract) for death or injuries sustained by passengers with whom the public transport has automatically contracted to carry safely to their destination. The obvious advantage over tort is that in a contract action, negligence is irrelevant and the absence of which is no defense.

  18. rom says:

    cvj: LOL, uncle. I think your being ‘anti-oligarch’ trumped your being ‘anti-government’ this time around. 😀

  19. rom says:

    bencard: even better, uncle! 😀

  20. Jeg says:

    Oh of course. I thought the almighty motherfucking hammer of god bit was pure poetry. 😀

    On the anti-oligarch vs anti-government thing, both are evil, but in the Philippine setting, I think the oligarchs can’t prosper without the government. I think Ive said this before in a comment section somewhere: in a government vs. oligarch battle — like Meralco for instance — I tend to favor the side without an army.

  21. cvj says:

    Jeg, Rom, because of the interplay between the two (a form of coopetition), i don’t think it’s a simple matter of being anti-government or anti-oligarch. Besides, government administrations come and go, but the Oligarchs have always been there to hold us back, which is why as i mentioned in the previous thread in this blog, being anti-Oligarch is not just a late 60’s/early 70’s zeitgeist.

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