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The Sinking Feeling

June 24, 2008

The sun is up and the kids are off to school. So you’d like to start the day thanking the Good Lord for another chance to walking among the living.

How would you if from the beach at San Fernando Romblon you are staring instead at what remains of the ferry Princess of the Stars.

The scene cannot but give bring on a bout of depression.

Pardon the unintended pun: a truly sinking feeling. The feeling that someone somewhere should hang for this.

Here in Manila far from the murky waters off San Fernando, Mindoro we cannot sense the deathly quiet nor smell the stench of bloated bodies. But we are told that with 22 confirmed dead and 59 confirmed survivors, a staggering number of 785 souls remain missing and, by now, feared dead.

Yes the search and rescue choppers are still hovering atop the overturned hull of the ship with the top part of the bow jutting out of the water while coast guard ships and puny fishermen’s bancas circling the site looking for any sign of life.

The relatives of the missing are already wailing, grieving nervously at Manila’s Pier 12 waiting, hoping to hear something other than reports of more bodies being plucked out of the water or washing on the shore of San Fernando town.

But instead of hopeful news, the mayor of San Fernando was appealing on national radio late yesterday afternoon for body bags and lime so they could tend to the dead.

To underline her own despair and anger, the lady mayor described how they’ve been been forced to sprinkle white cement on the recovered cadavers just to stem the decomposition while waiting for help. She also complained: not a single call had come, she said, from Sulpicio Lines, to coordinate and help.

And while representatives of the company are reportedly going to Romblon via Aklan this morning, unless they can part the waters off Romblon and raise the dead, there is little else they can do.

The press reports now say how the shiptain’s order to abandon ship came only when Princess of the Stars was already tilting very badly so much so that the passengers were already in panic.

In fact even while the vessel was supposedly only three years and had a full complement of life boats and life vests, only four of the listed survivors had vests on.

This time unlike the other Sulpicio tragedies: the sinkings of MV Dona Paz and MV Dona Marilyn, Princess of the Stars was not overloaded.

But the question now emerging is that it was allowed to leave port even while its destination was under severe storm alerts.

Of course the now customary finger-pointing has begun in earnest with even the Speaker of the House of Representatives asking for Sulpicio Lines’ license to be revoked. This while other high and mighty officials of this country are attending to ‘affairs of state and strengthening the bonds of friendship between Manila and Washington. D.C. By the way at least 59 congressmen are on that junket.

I don’t only have a sinking feeling. I want to puke.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. reena permalink
    June 27, 2008 5:05 pm

    It goes beyond BRIBERY and WEAK MARITIME LAWS. The Princess of Stars tragedy is a case of HUMAN SACRIFICE! And this is not the first by Sulpicio Lines.

    Ever wonder why after THREE MARITIME ACCIDENTS, the company is still afloat???? And why does this company fond of sailing during bad weather conditions???

    Try to look at this angle, INNOCENT HUMAN LIVES are being offered to some DARK FORCES to ensure the company’s business success!

    This may sound like a weird plot of a thriller movie BUT there are some people who still PRACTICE “DAGA” (and I’m not talking about pigs and chickens being slaughtered and offered as “ALAY” to the gods). Dig into the SULPICIO owners family background and you might just find some interesting answers!

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