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Cebu, if we dont act against Sulpicio, blood will be in our hands

July 18, 2008

Revolting that many Cebuanos particularly businessmen and even church leaders are pressuring government to lift Sulpicio’s suspension. We have never learned from the past marine disasters of Sulpicio that claimed thousands of lives. The poor who are forced to take the boat deserve protection. While their pockets are shallow, while they contribute less to bug businesses bottomline, they too are human beings. Lives are at stake here. Let’s not allow money to rule our way of thinking.

I call all fellow Cebuanos, let us unite against Sulpicio’s brazen act of profiteering.

Editorial

Sucking up to Sulpicio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 01:12:00 07/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The aggressiveness of Sulpicio Lines only goes to show that we do not have the rule of law, only the rule of lawyers. The shipping line has lashed out by filing suits and motions before the courts, to keep investigators at bay and tie up potential critics in litigation. Everyone knows the sports dictum that a good defense is a good offense, but this is ridiculous: Sulpicio is trying to dribble itself out of any accountability.

To God alone belongs the blame, Sulpicio says, and on its side it has, as proof positive of divine exculpation, the moral endorsement of one of God’s very own shepherds. Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, filled with Christian concern for the poor little rich Go family, the owners of Sulpicio, hopped over to tug at President Macapagal-Arroyo’s skirt to give a little concession to keep the Gos from starving to death. It was, of course, no little concession that the bishop was interceding, with child-like innocence, to obtain. For what the President conceded, as a result of Pueblos’ pastoral concern, was for Sulpicio to be allowed to continue the mainstay of its operations: cargo shipping.

The Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Cebu added the weight of Mammon to the intercession of God’s shepherd, by endorsing Pueblos’ request. The businessmen didn’t specifically endorse Pueblos, of course (it would be too patently a commercial conspiracy to do so), but in essence, they endorsed the Butuan prelate’s logic by pleading financial hardship for themselves. If they were deprived of access to Sulpicio’s cargo holds, it would be catastrophic for themselves and thus for all Cebuanos. To borrow Louis XIV’s phrase, the province is ourselves.

The Butuan bishop appealing for presidential clemency, echoed by the commercial sector declaring humanity is secondary to their bottom line, all points to a culture that confuses one’s own interests with the public good. In this, public officials are no different from the bishop and the Gos’ commercial chums.

The Gos, after all, had already obtained the satisfaction of witnessing Cebu’s congressmen ganging up on government bureaucrats instead of zeroing in on the shipping firm. The Gos, after all, are among the movers and shakers in the island province, thus clergy, merchants and officialdom are merely protecting one of their own. The appeals made by clergy and business councils, combined with the alacrity with which Cebuano congressmen focused on national government agencies while forgetting to take to task a prominent commercial family from their province, show that the bottom line will trump social justice every time.

To borrow a line from Inquirer columnist Randy David, the reason all this can happen, of course, is that the public allows it, following the lead of our very own institutions. Officialdom has known all along that our weather bureau is understaffed, under-funded and ill-equipped; government officials know we have no real Coast Guard to speak of; and maritime insiders have long been grumbling about the head of Marina being a know-nothing do-nothing who owed his job to crony influence. And yet Congress is shocked–shocked!–at it all.

And the public? It had trusted its loved ones to a shipping line expected to have learned the lessons of its tragic past; and to authorities meant to keep commercial greed in check. And now that it wants to recover their dead and give them the benefit of Christian burial–and an answer, at least, as to how and why their loved ones died, Sulpicio responds by unleashing a storm of court cases and injunctions, and a list of bureaucratic requirements to tie up families with red tape for a generation to come. If Sulpicio must pay, it will only do so after it has maximized interest on its insurance payoffs.

The public, in the end, is all bark and no bite. No one, it seems, is prepared to deprive Sulpicio of income to pressure it into at least submitting to a thorough investigation and the kind of management shakeup that should be the minimum fallout from a tragedy of this scale.

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After reading this, will Cardinal Vidal still allow Sulpicio to sail?

July 14, 2008

Earlier, our good Cardinal of Cebu, His Emminence was quoted in the local papers having assked government to allow Sulpicio to set sail. I hope he was misquoted.

Editorial
MV Scandalous

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:35:00 07/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines- The list of accidents Sulpicio Lines has figured in makes for chilling reading. According to Lloyd’s of London, Sulpicio ships have been involved in 45 accidents since 1980, including seven sinkings. (The complete list can be downloaded as a file at http://www.inquirer.net/verbatim/table.pdf.)

The seventh, of course, was the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars last month, at the height of typhoon “Frank.” Lloyd’s, the world’s leading clearinghouse of maritime information, estimated the casualty toll of the latest accident at “150 dead and 700 missing.”

Each death, each missing person claim, was avoidable, if government authorities or the shipping line’s management itself had recognized the company’s safety record for what it was: a scandal, an outrage. We have raised this question before, we raise it again: If an airline had this kind of record, would it still be in business?

We do not need to dwell on the seven engine-trouble accidents involving three ships. (We cannot but note, however, that one stalled ship, the Filipina Princess, was “stranded for 3 days.”)

The record of fires breaking out on board is a little more worrying. Four of the six incidents happened in the last eight years; a fire struck the ill-fated Princess of the Orient several months before the ship capsized (in the middle of a storm); in 2003 a fire on the Iloilo Princess was so severe it caused the ship to roll over. No casualties were reported then, but the vessel was declared a total loss.

The record of Sulpicio ships running aground is even more disturbing. In 28 years, the firm has suffered 19 groundings, including four ships that sustained so much damage they were subsequently declared a total loss. At least two ships ran aground during typhoons. One ran aground and caught fire.

The record of collisions does not build confidence either. A Sulpicio Lines vessel has collided with another ship six times since 1992; a collision has occurred every two or three years.

It is the record of sunk ships, however, that proves that Sulpicio Lines does not deserve its franchise. In particular, the sinking of three ships in the middle of a typhoon—one every 10 years, quite literally—tells us that the shipping company has failed the basic test of common carriers. To assure the safety of its passengers.

We’ve said this before; we’ll say it again. After Doña Marilyn sank in 1988, while sailing in the middle of a typhoon (“Ruby”) and claiming 150 lives, and after Princess of the Orient sank in heavy seas in 1998 (during typhoon “Vicki”) and claiming 150 lives, why did Sulpicio allow its flagship Princess of the Stars to set sail in the middle of typhoon “Frank”?

Its safety record should have told Sulpicio to wait the storm out. (As we’ve noted, at least two other Sulpicio vessels were involved in an accident while sailing during a typhoon.) Its failure to do so can only mean that having the worst accident record among the country’s major shipping lines did not mean a thing to Sulpicio management. If they got away with murder before, what’s another storm, another sinking?

It is true that suspending Sulpicio’s franchise would cause some economic dislocation, but that is the price we have to pay, the price we should have paid many years and thousands of lives ago, to protect the public. That we seem to lack the political will to do so (as we wrote yesterday and we write again today) “all points to a culture that confuses one’s own interests with the public good.”

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Sulpicio, you can fool us once, twice but never all the time

June 30, 2008

Sulpicio sues PAGASA for inaccurate weather forecasting
By Allison Lopez, Katherine Evangelista
Philippine Daily Inquirer, INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:26:00 06/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Sulpicio Lines Inc. filed a P3-million civil damage suit against the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration for allegedly giving inaccurate weather forecast on typhoon Frank (international codename: Fengshen).

SULPICIO WAS ABLE GET OFF THE HOOK FOR THE SINKING OF MV DONA PAZ, MV DONA MARILYN and MV PRINCESS OF THE ORIENT. THEY THINK BY FILING A CASE AGAINST PAGASA THEY CAN CREATE REASONABLE DOUBT LEADING TO AN ACQUITTAL .

ACCORDING TO A RECENT EDITORIAL OF THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER “on Oct. 29, 1988 the Board of Marine Inquiry absolved Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz and found MT Vector at fault. In 1992, a Manila regional trial court held Sulpicio Lines “solely responsible” for the accident and ordered it to pay P1.2 million to the heirs of two victims. In 1996, the Court of Appeals absolved Sulpicio Lines of any liability and laid the blame on Vector and Caltex Philippines, which had leased the tanker. In September 2006 the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling ordering Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of an engineer who died in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz.

In the case of MV Doña Marilyn, the Board of Marine Inquiry said the disaster was due to force majeure or “an act of God,’’ and held no one responsible. In September 2000, the Department of Justice dropped the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of MV Princess of the Orient, saying that it could not be held criminally responsible for the accident.

LET US NOT ALLOW SULPICIO TO GO SCOT FREE. TELL YOUR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS TO BE VIGILANT. AS I SAID BEFORE AND I WILL SAY IT AGAIN, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

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In praise of David Diaz, Manny Pacquiao’s latest knockout victim

June 30, 2008

Here is the transcript of David Diaz interview after he was floored by Manny Pacquiao. Truly a world class boxer and sportsman, worthy of praise.

Jim Lampley: … a moment of great sportmanship here. David there was a moment between rounds that you said to your trainor Jim Strickland: “I can handle his punches, he’s just too fast.” Was that basically the story of the fight?

David Diaz: Yeah, he was too fast. The fucker was too fast.

Jim Lampley: Did you have any idea coming here that he would be that way?

David Diaz: No, I actually saw him on tape and I was like “Yeah, I could deal with that speed,” you know. The power was the one I was worried about. But he was too fucking too fast man. Fast, fast, fast.

Jim Lampley: Amazingly fast.

David Diaz: Fast. I though Freddie was in there hitting me too.

Jim Lampley: Hahaha…

David Diaz: Well, you go to the fight, you go in and you risk it. Well, with a guy like this Manny, shit, at least I can say that I fought a good fighter man. And that’s all I want. I want to fight. That’s it.

Jim Lampley: You got cut in the nose, I think, in the first round. By the 2nd or 3rd round, a cut above your eye appeared. Obviously, Jimmy was trying to do everything to stop, but the blood kept coming. How much did that bother you during the fight?

David Diaz: No, it didn’t bother me at all. I thought, he has a knife with him though. I thought he was cutting me a blade. ‘Cause he was fast, he was faster than what I expected. I could deal with the power, but it was the speed was more than I thought it was. And I got tricked by his speed.

Jim Lampley: All right, Floyd Mayweather has retired, the argument is who’s the best pound for pound fighter in the world now? Is it Pacquiao, is it Joe Calzaghe, is it maybe rising superstar Miguel Cotto. After what you saw tonight, is there really an argument?

David Diaz: Well, yeah, I’m not going to say he’s not, he just beat me man. He’s good, he’s fucking good, my hats go off to him, we went in there, I fought and I gave it my all, and his speed is just a fucking, that thing that sealed it for me. His speed is too uncontrollable. My hats off to him, he’s a good fighter and you know, what else can I say? We lost today, tommorow we’ll win.

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LET’S CLOSE SULPICIO. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

June 24, 2008

<span style=”color: rgb(255, 0, 0);
“>PLEASE TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO PRESSURE GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE SULPICIO’S FRANCHISE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. TOO MANY DEATH IN THE PAST 20 YEARS. YOUR LOVED ONE MIGHT BE NEXT IN THE HANDS OF SULPICIO.

Editorial
Another sea tragedy


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:34:00 06/23/2008

“If Sulpicio Lines were a human being, it would be considered a “recidivist.” It has not been sanctioned and made to pay enough for the big toll in terms of lives lost in the three worst maritime disasters in the country since 1987. On Oct. 29, 1988 the Board of Marine Inquiry absolved Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz and found MT Vector at fault. In 1992, a Manila regional trial court held Sulpicio Lines “solely responsible” for the accident and ordered it to pay P1.2 million to the heirs of two victims. In 1996, the Court of Appeals absolved Sulpicio Lines of any liability and laid the blame on Vector and Caltex Philippines, which had leased the tanker. In September 2006 the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling ordering Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of an engineer who died in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz.

In the case of MV Doña Marilyn, the Board of Marine Inquiry said the disaster was due to force majeure or “an act of God,’’ and held no one responsible. In September 2000, the Department of Justice dropped the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of MV Princess of the Orient, saying that it could not be held criminally responsible for the accident.

What all these cases, including the latest tragedy, indicate is that there is a very low regard for the value of human life, a very loose and relaxed set of rules on clearances for sailing, and possible irregularities in the issuance of such clearances.”

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No solid proof against GMA. Media reports say she is "guilty as charged".

March 11, 2008

It’s been several weeks since J-Lo, the “probinsyanong instik” told the Senate about how he tried to “moderate their greed”.

He narrated how President Arroyo and his husband Mike is the top recipient of the billions of pesos of kickback from ZTE for the NBN project. At this time J-Lo is going around the major university campuses trying to look like a hero and exciting the youth about the possibility of another people power. The youth who were too young to have joined Edsa one and two are now being aroused with the possibility that this time around they can be at the forefront of bringing down a sitting president.

What worries me is how we as a country get easily swayed by theatrical expose of corruption. Despite the absence of solid proof that can stand up in the court of law we tend to base our judgment on tear jerking whistleblowers.

As a public relations practitioner, I know there is what is called the court of public opinion where you can be found guilty before proven innocent. Here in this court, for the longest time, GMA and his minions have been successively found guilty before proven innocent.

I think it is because we are so convinced about the existence of corruption in high places. I think it is because we also see proof of corruption even in our own barangays. That is why when GMA, his husband or a member of her administration is accused of receiving kickbacks, without solid evidence, the public immediately believe it’s true.

In this situation, I hope the media should play its role as the bulwark of our democracy. Instead of riding on the political roller coaster the media should work double time to help us see what is fiction and non-fiction.

Sadly, the media is so concerned about ratings that they tend to go where the wind blows. They would rather join the chorus of the civil society, some holier-than-thou bishops and the opposition in urging us to search for truth.

While they are marshalling us to search for the truth we are already hearing a clarion call for GMA to step down. Is this not double-speak? This is where media should come in. They should be able to help us decode what the opposition is telling us. In this way we can hand the right verdict. Not just move towards what the opposition wants us to do. Instead, what our nation deserves.

 

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GMA must not resign. Protest against corruption must continue.

February 26, 2008

Amidst the ZTE scandal I decided against throwing my two cents into the murky political well. First, I do not want to let go of my last two silver coins. Second, the political noise is so discordant that I think it’s wise to just keep mum.

In the 1986 Edsa revolt and in the Estrada impeachment I was one with the people who opted for change. This time I chose to sit it out and wait for the dust to settle. I don’t want to brand my fence-sitting as a sign of resignation that things will stay the same and that corruption will continue to eat up our political life.

But tell me, when the people booted out Marcos and installed Cory Aquino was corruption stabbed to death? Was cronyism demolished? Duh, there was “kamag-anak incorporated” during Tita Cory’s presidency. After Erap fell from power and was later convicted for plunder, the church, civil society, the left and the right banded together to catapult President Gloria Arroyo to the highest office of the land. The communal hope was for her to lead the eradication of corruption in government.

But, what happened to our nation after Edsa Dos. GMA’s administration since then until now continues to be rocked by scandal after scandal. In fact, gone are the days when we hear about 100 million pesos of loot. Now were hearing stories about billions of pesos of kickback.

I don’t think GMA and her cabals are solely to blame for the continued wanton plunder of our country’s meager wealth. In fact, I don’t think Erap was totally to blame for the massive corruption in his time. The Marcos dictatorship destroyed our nation’s moral fabric. It eradicated this country’s sense of right and wrong. When Cory took over, the government leaders whom she worked with during her reign were lured to the same corruption that Marcos practiced for 20 years.

The poor sensing the futility of their predicament continues to beg from every politician. The politicos whose lust for power is unprecedented will not hesitate to steal from the government coffers to feed the poor and deepen their own pockets.

GMA must not resign. It will not solve corruption. Whoever will replace GMA in the unlikely event she will be booted out of power will be forced to dip his or her fingers in the well of corruption.

The problem is not solely with our leaders. The problem is the state of disrepair of our political system. The problem is also with the church, the civil society, the left and the right.

Unfortunately, senators with ambition, many men and women of the cloth together with civil society and the left all claim to have the sole bragging rights to moral ascendancy.

GMA must not succumb to mob rule but let the protest action against corruption in government, church and society in general continue.

 

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