Palace: Marina responsible for any Aboitiz vessel-related mishap

September 18, 2009 - The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will be held liable if anything goes wrong with the five Aboitiz-owned vessels it allowed to sail again, a Palace official said Friday.

"We assume Marina has talked to Aboitiz and ensured that all the benefits that would be given to those affected were already taken cared of by the company," deputy presidential spokesman Lorelei Fajardo said in a press briefing. "We would hold Marina responsible for that."

Last week, Marina suspended the operations of Aboitiz Transport System Corp. (ATSC), the Philippines' largest shipping firm, after one of its vessels, SuperFerry 9, sank off the coast of Zamboanga Peninsula on September 6. Nine people were killed in the incident.

But the country's maritime regulator ruled early Friday that a seaworthiness audit had shown that the five ships only showed "minor problems." [See: Marina: 5 Aboitiz ships can sail amid ferry investigation]

SuperFerry ships 2, 12, and 19 and Cebu Ferry vessels 1 and 2 are set to resume operations, transporting passengers and goods to their respective destinations.

SuperFerries 2, 12, and 19 serve the Manila-Cebu route while the two Cebu Ferry ships ply the Cebu-Ormoc, Cebu-Cagayan de Oro, Cebu-Nasipit routes, websites of both Aboitiz SuperFerry and Cebu Ferries showed.

According to a logistics executive interviewed by GMANews.TV, allowing the five vessels to sail again would prevent a "transport slowdown of goods, ensuring sufficient inventories for food stores and retailers especially those in the Visayas and Mindanao."

Fajardo said, “We would like to assume before this decision, they have conducted their own investigation."

The Palace official also clarified that the Aboitiz family’s alleged closeness to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had nothing to do with the Marina’s decision to allow five of the ATSC’s vessels to sail again. - with Jam Sisante, GMANews.TV

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