Boring Through A Wreck, Tearing Our Hearts
The agony simply continues for the bedraggled and weary relatives of the hundreds of dead and missing from what Sulpicio Lines insists was “an act of God” – the sinking of the ferry boat Princess of the Stars in the waters off Sibuyan and Romblon islands while en route to Cebu at the height of typhoon Frank.
For a full week now the bodies of many of the dead have remained entombed in the overturned hull of the 23,000-ton vessel with authorities taking their sweet time in removing the toxic chemical cargo in the bowels of the death ship – all 10 metric tons of endosulfan, a pesticide shipment of Del Monte Philippines intended, they say, to make sure pineapples are safe for export.
Quite a queer coincidence, one of the ‘highlights’ of the presidential ‘working visit’ to the United States was Pres. Arroyo standing witness at the signing of a $500-M contract for the export of Philippine pineapples!
What a cruel unintended trade-off.
In fairness, we are sure Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage of 50-plus congressmen will want to hurry back to Manila.
In time to witness the retrieval of the dead from Princess of the Stars or to celebrate the homecoming from Las Vegas of newly drowned world lighweight boxing king Manny Pacquiao?
To his credit, the Pacman yesterday announced he was making a gnerous donation to help the ty[hon victims while we have not heard nary a peep from the junketeers in the preidential party, many of whom battled to get $600 ringside seats at Mandalay Bay — the better to get within TV camera range and get theIr mugs beamed via satellite live on pay-per-view and delayed free TV.
I am sure many did not miss seeing former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson among those atop the ring looking as if he himself knocked out David Diaz. Magpa-balato ka nga, sir.
But what really tears our heart out is news that commercial divers are finally en route to the scene of the Sibuyan Sea tragedy to bore a hole into the wreck and get at the 40 foot container van loaded with the pesticide and allow rescue drivers to resume their grim task of recovering the other cadavers which by now are surely more bloated and unrecognizable because of decomposition.
This while Sulpicio Lines, feigning compassion, is declaring that it is “waiving legal documentary requirements for victims’ relatives to avail of P200,00 in bereavement assistance.
As noted by Nick (who has lost a cousin in the tragedy) and Rom over at FilipinoVoices.com, the Sulpcio offer is nothing but a bribe, an obvious attempt, may we add, to stave off a class action suit Thank you to Sen. Mar Roxas that Sulpicio only has LIMITED insurance coverage for its death ship. Note down the insurer firm: Oriental.
The goal has been further exposed by their caveat that the claimants need to submit original documents!
Heartless, this shipping company really is!