"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

MV Princess of the Stars turned Graveyard of the Seas

The catastrophe of the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars the Graveyard of the Seas can easily be blamed on the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines with all its fury judging from the destruction on its path. Is it really caused by the typhoon or something else?

It seems like it is seeing Xinhua News quoting the Philippine disaster-relief agency on the estimated damages caused by typhoon "Fengshen" in the country to P4.39 B (US$98M), infrastructure at P770 M (US$17.3), damage to elementary and high school buildings at P212 M (US$4.75M), and destruction to agricultural production at P3.3 B (US$749M) with about P2.884 B (US$671M) covers fisheries and crops in the central Panay Island.

While it may appear to be so what strike us most is that this tragedy can be avoided if only we are willing to admit that corruption plays a major role combined with the fatalistic “Bahala na” (a Filipino dimwitted attitude meaning whatever happens happen or if it’s meant to be it will happen) in a never ending disaster after another like a vicious cycle of misery that people are being subjected like disposable objects in assessing collateral damage. The sinking of the Princess of the Stars is not the first “accident” involving multiple deaths on inter-island ferries this is actually the 16th in the last 9 years for a total death toll of 6,000 and at the rate Gloria Macapagal Arroyo scolds her underlings acting like a circus side freak show for all its sound byte glory are nothing but shallow empty rhetoric until the next big one hit again. Is this a case of never learning our lessons? I doubt it and Gulf News editorial puts it succinctly below:

With each successive catastrophe, the authorities have wrung their hands and declared that henceforth laws are going to be toughened and existing regulations rigorously enforced. But still the sinking and loss of lives have continued. The response of President Gloria Arroyo to the news of this tragedy yesterday was one of anger. She demanded to know why the vessel had been allowed to sail when a typhoon was close by. She blamed the Coast Guard and civil defense authorities and said that she wanted answers. These made good sound bites, but in truth Arroyo already knows many of the answers. The ferry system in her country is poorly regulated, poorly equipped and, on occasions, poorly run. This is in part because of the limited profits to be made from carrying tens of thousands of people to and from some 7,100 islands.

The Philippines is a poor country but allowing its passenger ferry fleet to be run so badly is nonetheless inexcusable. Trying to apportion blame is not really the point. Successive presidential administrations have looked on while officials, through negligence or bribery, have allowed basic rules on safety and seaworthiness to be flouted. Every time lives are lost in ferry accidents, inquiries are held, findings published and the authorities promise to be tougher — but still the tragedies occur.

Indeed, who are they fooling but then again greed and the privileges of power of those flourishing in the pathetic patronage politics in a semi-feudal society pretending to be rich and sophisticated will just not get it that corruption aside from stunting the development growth of the nation also kills and maim people while destroying the moral fabric of its people. Gulf news in ending the editorial with this damning statement which we doubt if ever this will be addressed:

The Philippines, sadly, does not have the distraction of rapid economic growth as an excuse. Instead these largely unnecessary deaths at sea tend to incriminate authorities who are too inept or corrupt to take proper care of their people.

Sad indeed that is truly depressing and revolting especially when accidents like these can be avoided. In a string of never ending disaster Belmont Club citing another catastrophic disaster on the tragic loss of 4,375 passengers of the overloaded ferry Doña Paz as the worst maritime disaster anywhere that no one seems to remember on December 20 1987 was of all things due to criminal negligence that only validates disregard for safety and respect for human lives. A disaster 3 times in the number of fatalities that dwarfed the sinking of RMS Titanic that shocked people no end was memorialized in stage, print and film and yet was almost immediately forgotten. The accident that caused 3 times the number of dead passengers crammed into the rusty asthmatic 2,215 ton ferry Doña Paz on that fateful night in Tablas Straits a collision with a small tanker with both crews criminally not paying attention because they are watching TV or drinking beer.

As if this is not revolting enough we read in the news “valiant efforts” to save the trapped passengers by torching a hole on the hull of MV Princess of the Stars which may not be exactly what was the intended result upon seeing orly_habari’s response at Anna’s Manila Baywatch article:

A morbid note on the search and rescue operation is the paucity of air search reports. The focus on efforts such as divers torching a hole in the hull to search for survivors is fatalistic. Only a few air pockets remain on a capsized vessel to allow survival. The torched hole becomes the entry point for search and retrieve, and a sardonic access for looting.

Oh well, if indeed it was an access for looting these are nothing but lowly tomb raiders of the sea rather than rescuers, if it is not god help those trapped passengers because that is the height of fatalistic incompetence. As if this is not the worse of the worse Dominique of Mt. Balatucan Monitor reports on how the relatives of the passengers are treated by Sulpicio Lines the owners of the MV Princess of the Stars with disrespect with guards drawing their guns on grieving and frantic relatives desperately wanting to know the fate of their beloved relatives.

The management of Sulpicio Lines flaunts a P200K (roughly US$4,500+) compensation to the victims but what they don’t tell us is that the compensation is likely to be limited since the company has no cover with the International Group of P&I Clubs and is not a signatory of the Athens Convention. Bottom line is profit and companies will cut cost wherever they can squeeze it at the expense of their passengers who they don’t respect anyway. Is it a wonder why the Philippines cannot get a big chunk of the tourist market, yeah like tourist are too dumb to gamble with their life sailing on a barely floating grave.

It is about time that we demand for accountability and hold the people responsible criminally liable for causing the untimely demise of our people….. it should not stop at the Sulpicio Lines but should start there and get all those responsible in the government too plus these grandstanding politicians that sets the corrupt standards of the nation.

For inquiries on the status of passengers Sulpicio Lines has uploaded the passenger manifest, updated list of survivors and crew list, send inquiries via email at sulpicio@sulpiciolines.com or call their Manila Hot line at (02) 242-4258, (02) 474-5205 (02) Cebu (032) 5162728 Mobile 09174228344, 09174228339

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