Crew members of M/V Baleno 9 were drunk –survivor

January 7, 2010 11:02 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 7 – Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator Elena Bautista said on Thursday that his office will look into the allegations that some of the crew of MV Baleno 9 were under the influence of alcohol when the ship sank off Isla Verde in Batangas last Dec. 26.

”If is true that the crew were drunk, then they will be stripped of their license and their seaman’s book will be confiscated,” Bautista said in a media interview after attending a Senate public hearing on the maritime disasters.

Bautista, who attended the third hearing since November last year, said the franchise of the Besta Shipping Lines, owner of Baleno 9, would also be cancelled if proven that the ship owner tolerated the drinking session inside the ship while on operation.

”Definitely, this kind of activity is not allowed while on board the ship because the crew are like the driver of the bus who have to protect their passengers all time,” Bautista ssif.

During the public hearing, Baleno 9’s survivor Jonathan Umali claimed that some of the ship’s crew were under the influence of alcohol while the ship was sailing from Calapan City to Batangas City.

The government authorities are still investigating the real cause of the sinking of Baleno 9 that killed seven people while scores are still missing.

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the failure of the crew to put lashing on the vehicles, including a 10-wheeler truck’ has contributed to the capsizing of the ship.

”I have received reports that one hour after ship left the port of Calapan City, the crew have not yet put lashing. Why the Philippine Coast Guard allowed the ship to sail without putting first the lashing on the vehicles,” Gordon asked.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is also investigating other sea tragedies, such as the sinking of MV Catalyn B on Dec. 24 and Commando 6 in May 2009.

”No archipelagic nation like the Philippines can be economically stable unless it has a strong maritime industry,” Gordon said.

Gordon vowed to recommend the filing of measures that would strengthen the maritime industry.

”We have to assure the safety at sea not only during peak season but all time because I believe that the roll-on, roll-off has big contribution to the growing economy and tourism in the country,” Gordon said.

The MV Baleno 9 is one of the ships operating the roll-on, roll-off system implemented under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (PNA) RMA/jfm

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