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Commentary: Region 8 remembers MV Dona Marilyn mishap today

Tacloban City (October 24) -- Today, the people of Region 8 remember with grief, the MV Dona Marilyn sea mishap which claimed the lives of 250 Eastern Visayans in 1988. The ship braved big waves spawned by a typhoon and sank near the Camotes Sea.

Still reeling from the biggest sea mishap to occur in the Region, the MV Paz tragedy in December 1987, which claimed the lives of some 4,341 people, most of them from Leyte and Samar, the sinking of MV Dona Marilyn on October 24, 1988 while enroute from Manila to Tacloban, Leyte, was a blow which many relatives found difficult to fathom.

The sinking of Dona Marilyn showcased the fact that while some of the tragedies are obviously man-made, like the Doņa Paz and while the others were just nature's expression of wrath, the lessons learned in previous tragedies have apparently been unlearned.

As the Region remembers Dona Marilyn mishap with sadness, for the loss of dear ones, a clarion call is in order to Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Land Transportation Office, and the Philippine Coast Guard to be on the lookout not only for terrorists but also to monitor public transportation for any overcrowding and overloading to prevent any disasters.

Marina, PPA and the Coast Guard in the case of passenger ships, and LTFRB in the case of buses, must take stern action against "silent terrorists" among transport operators.

Sea mishaps in the Philippines, the latest of which was the Solar 1 oil spill off the coast of Guimaras, can be as deadly as a terrorist attack, if not deadlier.

In the field of safety, mishaps that occurred in recent years give the impression that sea travel in the Philippines remains a risky adventure. Looking at the state of Philippine vessels, the average age of commercial fishing boats is about 20 years. All passenger ferries are second hand, averaging more than 10 years old.

The academe can be at the forefront of developing fields of studies related to Marine Transportation. These are naval architecture which is about shipbuilding; ocean engineering or offshore engineering which covers the study of energy from waves; and coastal engineering which is involved with ports, harbors, shore protection, and developments related to coastal infrastructure.

The stakeholders must join hand in hand with the government in order to safeguard the lives and property of the commuters, either by land or by sea. This, done, the loss of 250 dear lives in the Dona Marilyn mishap will not be, after all, in vain. (PIA 8) [top]

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