Defying law and logic

November 24, 2006

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star 11/24/2006


Off the coast of Misamis, disaster already struck because of similar defiance of rules and reason. The sinking of the open barge carrying 600 tons of oil spill debris from Guimaras is the result of the cleanup task force ignoring Coast Guard warnings.

Capt. Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard commander for Western Visayas, had strongly objected to the use of open barges to move the sludge out of Guimaras. But the other agencies, including Petron Corp. whose rented tanker had spilled 2 million liters to begin with, thought they were smarter. The Maritime Industry Authority, in its hurry to entice barge owners into sending their vessels over, relaxed the rules on carrying hazardous cargo.

The Marina tried to wash its hands of responsibility for the decision soon afterwards. Instead of inspecting the seaworthiness of the barges, as its main work, it delegated the task to the Coast Guard.

And so the idiocy had to happen twice. Motor tanker M/T Solar sank in Aug. because the shipmaster insisted on sailing in very rough waters, with defective gear. The open barge Ras sank also in rough seas because the crew, emboldened by a Marina special permit, similarly sailed into a storm.

(For the entire column, click Gotcha.)


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