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Senator’s call

Manila, Philippines – A senator has said that ship owners involved in the sinking of the MV Saint Thomas Aquinas off the waters of Cebu should finance the immediate removal of the ship, following reports that fishermen in Cordova and Talisay City are now starving due to the scarcity of fish and other forms of aquatic life.

“The cleanup and removal of the ship wreck is the responsibility of the government, subject to costs charged to ship owners found at fault,” Sen. Sergio Osmena, who hails from Cebu, said.

The removal can be done just like what was made on the US Navy ship that ran aground at the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage-listed coral reef in Tubbataha.

Salvage teams took the ship apart piece by piece until it was completely gone from the reef. The US government scrapped and dismantled the $227-million USS Guardian.

Osmena also said that he is supporting calls for the government adoption of the 2007 Nairobi Inter-Nation Convention on Ship Wreckage.

Under the law, ship owners are mandated to remove their wreckage, especially if it poses a threat to the health of the people and the environment. “I will support it if there had been moves to adopt it,” he said.

The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) revealed that the fishermen’s plight started or the catch of aquatic life was reduced significantly after the sea tragedy last August 16, when Sulpicio Lines’ Sulpicio Express Siete hit 2GOs’ MV Saint Thomas Aquinas,
resulting into the sinking of the latter, killing 116.

Osmena said that the government is mandated to remove the ships that sank in Philippine waters, but finances should be shouldered by the shipping company.

Pamalakaya information director Gerry Corpus even dubbed the ship as a “ticking time bomb.”