More than four years ago, the government ordered an investigation into the sinking of a passenger ship that capsized between the waters of Dinahican Point, Quezon and Polilio Island on Dec. 21, 2017.
Five people were killed while hundreds of disaster survivors were pulled from the rough seas.
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered a swift investigation into the incident.
“We want this latest incident of sea mishap to be investigated as quickly as possible so we can immediately implement safety nets and preventive measures,” Tugade said at the time.
“Ensuring the safety and security of travelers must be our priority.”
Sadly, we do not know the results of the investigation into the sinking of the passenger ship MV Mercraft 3, or to what extent the company was held accountable for the loss of lives, and what new safety measures were put in place as a result of the tragedy.
What we do know is that the same company is again in the news, after its high-speed ferry, the MV Mercraft 2, carrying 134 people, caught fire before reaching the port of Real in Quezon province on May 23.
Five women and two men had died, while 120 passengers had been rescued, with 23 of them treated for injuries, the coast guard said in a statement.
In a pattern we have become familiar with, the authorities will no doubt announce yet another investigation into the latest maritime tragedy. Just as predictably, we will not know the results of this investigation, and the disaster will fade from memory until more passengers’ lives are lost or put at risk again because of serious defects in our sea transportation system.
The Philippines gained notoriety for being the site of the world’s worst peacetime maritime tragedy, the collision, fire and sinking of the cargo ferry Doña Paz in 1987, which resulted in 4,386 deaths. At the time of its sinking, the 24-year-old ship, previously known as Don Sulpicio, had already been gutted by fire, re-conditioned, re-named and returned to service.
It was a dismal tale of human error, collusion, corruption, bad seamanship, poor seaworthiness and bad management.
How many of these factors were at play in the burning of the MV Mercraft 2? Will we ever find out?
If ensuring the safety and security of travelers is truly the government’s top priority, it should show as much enthusiasm in ferreting out the truth and acting on its findings swiftly as it does in launching investigations.