how many deaths will it take…

my mind keeps singing to me these haunting lines from bob dylan’s sixties classic “blowing in the wind”:

…how many ears must one man have
before he can hear people cry
…how many deaths will it take till he knows
that too many people havedied…”

too many of our people have died, too many more of our people will die, if this fourth disaster courtesy of the notoriously careless sulpicio lines is allowed, as usual, to go unpunished.

writes marlen v. ronquillo of the manila times:

From time immemorial, the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI), Philippine-version, has been identified with two things. It is either a fangless tiger or a board that almost always tilts to the side of a negligent shipowner.

Nothing on the voluminous archives of the BMI inquiries reveal sympathy and empathy for the victims of sea tragedies. The anti-victim tilt is understandable. It is the scum of the earth, the poor, thewretched that board the overloaded floating coffins. They can perish at sea and no one-after the initial media hysteria-will mourn their passing.

The owners of the shipping lines are rich, powerful, politically connected. They have lawyers and political sponsors, if they are not big political families themselves. The past and present names of Philippine shipping giants, including the responsible ones, are a collection of Philippine society’sWho’s Who: Aboitiz, Escano, Madrigal, Chiongbian, Go, Ledesma, etc….

The inquiries and recommendations of BMIs, past and present, have a pattern. Ship tragedies, even those that kill passengers by the thousands, are always ” acts of nature.”

Shipownersand operators, if they are cited at all, are mostly given a slap on the wrists.

It is the shameless and almost criminal pandering of past and present BMIs to the interest of shipowners and operators that provides the ideal environment for the creation of special admiralty courts. These are the courts that try maritime cases.

England and the other First World countries with long maritime traditions have these courts. Maritime justice is rendered fairly and swiftly. In England, the courts always tend to rule in favor of the victims, not the shipowners and operators, even if this means a hemorrhage at the Lloyd’s of London, which insures the ships, cargo and passengers.

If there is an ideal time and context to create Philippine admiralty courts, it is now.”


  1. It is not just BMI that are inutile in disastrous Maritime mishaps, even our liemakers did not legislate any laws despite their so-called in aid of legislation probes that actually improve safety standards in the industry. Until we address corruption we will see more deaths of this or even bigger magnitude.