Poe determined to ‘crucify’ Aya capsizing culprits

August 8, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 264 views

SEN. Grace Poe called for accountability in the fatal capsizing of the Aya Express in Laguna Lake last month after a survivor narrated that the reason for the capsizing was overloading.

Presiding over the Committee on Public Services’ investigation on the July 27 mishap that resulted in the deaths of 27 passengers, Poe lamented how the Philippines, despite being an archipelago, “has a poor maritime record” due to the “negligence” of authorities and failure in the enforcement of maritime safety laws.

“This is a systemic failure borne out of lack or non-implementation of existing maritime safety laws,” Poe said. “In a country composed of thousands of islands, the Philippines should have the highest safety standards in water transportation,” she stressed

Poe lamented the tragedy “revealed serious maritime safety compliance lapses that need to be revisited.”

Poe said the investigation aims to make those responsible for the incident accountable.

Seaworthiness also involves the presence of competent vessel crew knowledgeable about safety issues and who can respond to emergency situations, said Poe.

The senator pointed out that Republic Act No. 9993 mandates the Philippine Coast Guard to bar any vessel from sailing if found non-compliant to the regulations.

“Hindi ba’t ang hindi pagsuot ng life vest at pag-o-overload ng bangka ay paglabag na sa safety standard? Bakit walang pumigil dito,” Poe said.

John Ner Nilo Delos Reyes, one of the invited guests and survivor during the tragedy, narrated what transpired during the incident.

He said the bankero operator, knowing that it was already overloaded, did not mind adding another eight more passengers as he confirmed that this happened because there were no coast guard present during that time.

“Hindi po totoong nag panic ang mga passengers. Nai-video ko pa nga po ang ibang part ng insidente. Nagbukas ng payong ang mga tao. Nabali po ang katig kaya napunta po kami sa kaliwa.

Malakas po ang unos. Hindi nagpatila ang driver. Nilabanan pa ng driver and unos imbes na dalhin sa pampang ang bangka. Naputol ang katig kaya nagtilian hindi dahil nag panic. Nawala po ang balanse at nagkanya kanya na po kami,” he revealed.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo for his part scrutinized the seaworthiness of wooden hulled boats as mode of transportation as the Committee on Public Service conducted an inquiry Tuesday, August 8, 2023, on the capsizing of MB Aya Express.

Tulfo pointed out that wooden hulled boats, like the MB Aya Express, should have been phased out in 2020, citing a 2016 Memorandum Circular issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

However, the senator said he learned that MB Aya Express and several other boats that capsized in the past two weeks were all wooden hulled vessels.

“Based on this and other observations, we can see the lapses on the part of Marina,” Tulfo said.