Written By Romy Teruel
The Philippines as a country in the pathway of typhoons is filled with experiences on what typhoons can do to inflict damage along their path. We have seen billboards blown away and dropped on houses, cars, and buildings; agricultural farms reduced to wasteland; irrigation canals transformed to raging rivers; roads and bridges upturned like sticks and heaps of rubble; mountain sides collapse into mud; the seas spurning mountain-size killer waves. Every time we are left with millions of pesos worth in damages and grieving families.
Every time we also resolve to learn from our lessons. When passenger vessel Dona Paz collided with a cargo ship and sunk with more than a thousand passengers a few years ago, government came up with all safety nets to prevent similar occurrence in the future. For all these years however, we seem to have not learned our lessons.
Typhoon Frank that recently struck the country is proof again that we have thrown to the wind all the precautions and the safety nets that government has formulated to prevent serious damage to lives and property. Considering the strength of typhoon Frank, damage to property was inevitable, but the loss of lives that it has caused could have definitely been avoided or prevented.
The sinking of the Princess of the Stars of Sulpicio Lines during the height of typhoon Frank in Romblon was a tragic incident that could have been avoided. Too much disregard for government warning and miscalculation and misjudgement of the capabilities of the vessel were to me the reason why hundreds of passengers who went down with the ship and died are now rotting inside the capsized structure.
Was it greed for profit that made Sulpicio Management, owners of the ill-fated vessel, pushed them to sail despite information about the strength of the typhoon? Even with the plot of the typhoon path not directly hitting the voyage path of the Princess of the Stars, the variance was very short. Sulpicio Lines had experienced not just one or two mishaps already. The weather bulletin should have put the plug to the scheduled voyage even if the vessel’s tonnage is estimated to withstand the typhoons winds.
In the investigation it was found out that the Princess of the Stars did not even have facilities to directly monitor weather updates. That too should have been enough to cancel the voyage.
The Coast Guard cannot feign innocence too. Even if the rules allowed the Princess of the Stars to sail at such weather condition, the same could have been disapproved given the details of the typhoon. Discretion is the better part of valor, as the old cliché goes. This is true in the past as it is today.
The Typhoon Frank tragedy should also serve once more to the travelling public to put the urgency to the back seat in situations like that. Safety should always dictate our decisions over the importance of the travel if the conditions surrounding the travel will put us to great risk of danger.
The Typhoon Frank tragedy is one more lesson learned and but just like the others, it will be forgotten until the next tragedy.
NOTE. Perhaps it’s time that Mayor Dan Neri Lim should consider firing his city engineer. For months city roads have not been maintained. Pot holes are getting bigger every day in main thoroughfares. Does the city engineer ever inspect the condition of the city roads? Does he ever render reports on the status of the city roads to the Mayor? Methinks no. So how about it Boss?