Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday renewed her calls for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to prod the owners of the ill-fated Gulf Livestock 1 to swiftly facilitate its search for the Filipino seafarers who are still missing.
Hontiveros pointed out there are still 36 of them missing and the vessel itself has had a history of engine deficiencies.
The senator said she is just relaying the appeal of the families of the crew members for faster marine salvage operations to recover any remains that may still be within the shipwreck.
“I would like to respectfully convey their request that the owner of the vessel—Gulf Navigation Holding—be pressured to expedite marine salvage operations for the purpose of recovering any remains that may still be within the wreck of the ship,” Hontiveros said in a letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
She said the Panamanian-registered vessel had logged mechanical defects and operational issues before it went missing in the midst of Typhoon Maysak off the coast of southwest Japan in September.
“Gulf Livestock 1 had a noticeable checkered past, with European shipping database Equasis listing 25 port state control deficiencies in 2019 and 2020 alone, including a number related to the main engine,” she pointed out.
She also recalled that on July 25, 2020, a Philippine Navy vessel was even directed to deploy to an area 6.6 nautical miles off Davao Occidental province so that its engineers could assist in repairing the engine of the ill-fated vessel.
Considering the negligence of the ship’s owner, she said it is only appropriate for Gulf Navigation Holding to be made primarily liable for the expenses of carrying out retrieval operations.
“Kailangang panagutin ang Gulf Navigation Holding sa nangyaring paglubog ng barko nila. May mga naging problema na pala, pinabiyahe pa, (Gulf Navigation Holding should be held responsible for what happened. There have been reported problems but they still allowed the ship to set sail,” she said.
“Hindi rin dapat payagan na balewalain lang ang mga seafarers na technically ay kanilang mga empleyado (The government should also allow them to neglect the seafarers who technically became their employees),” she pointed out.
She also said the salvage operations will bring peace of mind, as well as closure, to the families of the Filipino seafarers who are still missing.
“It has been more than two months since the incident happened. Huwag na nating dagdagan pa ang sakit na nararamdaman nila (Let’s not add to their misery),” she said.
“Patuloy nating kalampagin ang Gulf Navigation Holding na sagutin ang gastos sa salvage operations ng barko (Let’s press the Gulf Navigation Holding to shoulder the expenses for the salvage operations). Only then can the families move forward,” she said.