Government Official Threatens to Jail Sulpicio Lines Executives

The Philippines Government moved to freeze the funds of Sulpicio Lines assets.  This move is designed to insure that the company pays for the salvage operations related to the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars.  The ferry sank in June when it was ravaged by Typhoon Frank (international code named Typhoon Fengshen).  Out of 860 people on board, only are confirmed to have 56 survived.

According to the Inquirer.net, one official desires to arrest executives of the company in order to prevent the company funds from being plundered:

Senior Deputy Minority Leader Roilo Golez proposed tougher action such as placing Sulpicio Lines executives under arrest in case the company reneged on its promise to pay for the refloating of its vessel.

I can only wonder if that is for the intention of sounding tough or if this is a real possibility.  Arrest  them for what?   It is difficult to fully understand this.  The above quote looks like a threat to be imposed only if the funds were not there.  But the article implied it was intended to be preemptive.  The above quote sounds as if it is a warning but often the language is a bit different here.  The way an American would read it is not always the same way a Filipino would say it.  I believe the usage here is meant as preemptive desire.  I hope the arrest is just political posturing and not a real possibility.

Other shipping and passenger companies tried to pressure the Philippine government to release the grounding of the company.  They claimed that with this company  being grounded it was causing disruption in the services provided to the Filipino.  With reduced capacity there was said to be delays.  The other shipping companies even alluded to fare increases.  In another article, it has been reported that 30 shipping companies in the Philippines had in fact increased their rates!  See the article published by Cebu Daily News.

I am a bit surprised that the competition would ask the government to allow Sulpicio Lines to return to operating status.  I wonder, do the other shipping companies see the action taken as a warning to them?  That is, is the government sending a clear message here?  That message being put people at risk and you’re going to loose more than your ship?  I think that’s exactly what the other companies are reacting too.  However, that is only my opinion.  It is not fact.  Most companies are eager to increase market share.  This leaves me to wonder why the other shipping companies would actively seek the return of a competitor.

The government may also be trying to avoid any blame in this tragedy.  The rules allowed this ship to sail under the conditions in which it left the harbor.  Those rules have not been changed and they would not be allowed to set sail.  However, the captain of the ship should have stayed in port.  Why he didn’t do this should be considered.  Perhaps their were real or perceived pressures placed upon him by Sulpicio Lines to set sail.  Proper regulations would have removed the possibility of pressure from company executives if it did exist.

It should be stated that these kinds of tragedies are not limited to the Philippines.  Just look at the tragedy of New Orleans and how it has been handled.  It could have been prevented but the pressure to save money prevented that and the Republican Administration to assist the city in its recovery.  It is not a case of “Only In The Philippines.”  Too many expats are negative toward the Philippines and I am not one of them.  i don’t understand this negativity.  If they don’t like the place why are they here?  On the other hand, I do wish to tell the story the way I see it.

Also see Inquirer.net

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Filed under: Philippine Politics

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