suing sulpicio

ngayon ko lang nalaman, salamat sa inquirer, na ito palang sulpicio lines ay napakasuwerte.

in ALL three disasters – the dona paz (4000 dead), the dona marilyn (250), andthe princess of the orient (150) – sulpicio lines was CLEARED of criminal responsibility for the deaths of the passengers.

On Dec. 20, 1987, a Sulpicio Lines ferry, the MV Doña Paz, collided with a Caltex-hired oil tanker, MT Vector, at Tablas Strait dividing Mindoro and Marinduque, an inter-island route wide enough for both vessels to pass. Only 26 people were rescued (24 passengers of the Doña Paz and two crew members of the Vector) after both ships sank.

The sinking of the Doña Paz, which was ferrying passengers from Tacloban City to Manila for the Christmas holiday, is considered the world’s worst peacetime sea tragedy that left more than 4,000 people dead.

On Oct. 29, 1988, the Board of Marine Inquiry “absolved” Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility and found the Vector at fault for the collision. In 1992, however, the Manila Regional Trial Court held Sulpicio Lines “solely responsible” for the accident and ordered the shipping firm to pay P1.2 million to the heirs of two victims.

Four years later, however, the Court of Appeals absolved the shipping company of any liability and laid the blame on the Vector and Caltex Philippines. In January 2006, the appellate court cleared Caltex Philippines of any liability for the 1987 sea tragedy.

By then, many relatives of the victims had settled out of court.

The latest court ruling involving Doña Paz was handed down in September 2006. The Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling ordering Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of a geodetic engineer who died in the maritime disaster. Even so, the ruling still did not assign criminal responsibility to Sulpicio Lines and merely found the shipping company guilty of breach of contract for failing to bring the engineer to Manila.

Less than a year after the Doña Paz sank, another ill-fated vessel of Sulpicio Lines made the headlines as Typhoon “Unsang” lashed Eastern Visayas on Oct. 24, 1988. A day before, Storm Signal No. 2 was raised over Leyte as early as 5:30 a.m. The following day, Storm Signal No. 3 was hoisted over Leyte, but authorities allowed the Doña Marilyn to sail from Manila to Tacloban. The Doña Marilyn encountered huge waves and capsized, leaving at least 250 people dead.

The Board of Marine Inquiry later concluded that the sinking of the Doña Marilynwas a force majeure or “an act of God” and that no one was responsible for the sea tragedy.

Ten years later, it was the largest ship on the Sulpicio Lines fleet that sank at the height of a typhoon. On Sept. 18, 1998, Typhoon “Gading” lashed at the MV Princess of the Orient, which was allowed to sail from Manila to Cebu City. The 24-year-old Princess of the Orient went down near the mouth of Manila Bay. At least 150 were confirmed dead.

In September 2000, the Department of Justice junked the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of the Princess of the Orient, saying the shipping firm could not be held criminally liable for the death of scores of passengers.”

ano ba yan! ang palusot na force majeure or act of god is not valid, not when any of those three disasters could have been avoided – in the case of the Dona Paz, if officers and crew had been more alert and competent and the ship better equipped with navigational aids; in the case of the dona marilyn and the princess of the orient, if typhoon warnings had been heeded and the ships forbidden from leaving port in the first place, as in the case of the princess of the stars, for which heads should roll, as blogger anna de brux insists.

walang duda, the courts and the department of justice are biased in favor of sulpicio lines.  why? i think because blogger benignO is correct:

Heads will not roll in this case (as in others) because Ces Drilon was not on that ship”.

a statement not in bad taste at all; rather, a painful political truth. it’s a class thing. kung pang-mayaman ang barkong yan, at tipong sosyal ang mga pasaherong nadisgrasya, tiyak, walang kalaban-laban ang sulpicio, at tulad ng white star line na may-ari ng titanic, it would be forced to make major improvements in its safety standards and operational procedures before being trusted with the lives of the rich and sosyal again.

to make matters worse for the families of the masa victims of sulpicio’s princess of the stars, recovered bodies of their loved ones are being buried without efforts to first identify them through proper forensic procedures, something that would be unheard of if the victims were well-off and well-connected. what a horrible state of affairs.


  1. PSImeon

    The New York heiress Leona Helmsley once said “only the poor pay taxes.” In the Philippines, only the poor gets convicted.

    Now I know why the truth really hurts, yes? Oh well.