MANILA—A House member has backed proposals to phase out ageing sea vessels amid a series of sea tragedies in the country.
Representative Antonio Cerilles, vice chairman of the House committee on transportation, said no amount of repair or overhaul could guarantee the seaworthiness of old ships.
“Its long exposure to the sea will eventually take its toll on the vessel,” said the second district representative of Zamboanga del Sur. “Floating coffins should be phased out.”
Cerilles called on the Philippine Coast Guard to strictly monitor vessels for sea-worthiness.
“The PCG should not allow vessels that are not designed for open sea to ply the open sea. It should also monitor aging vessels which are the ones usually prone to accidents,” he said.
In December, two ageing vessels—MV Catalyn B and MV Baleno 9—sank two days apart, killing at least 31 people and leaving 44 others missing.
MV Baleno 9 was already 25 years old while the M/V Catalyn B was more than 20 years old, said Maritime Industry Authority deputy administrator for operations Primo Rivera.
Rivera said there are about 142 units of roll-on and roll-off ships that are below 500 gross tons and an estimated 37 Ro-Ro ships above 500 gross tons. All of them, however, are already considered ageing ships, Rivera said.
Transportation and Communication Undersecretary for Maritime Sector Thompson Lantion said that within three years, the 34-year-old ships will be phased out.
Authorities consider a ship ageing if it is already 28 to 34 years old. Reports said many of the country’s shipping lines buy second-hand ships from neighboring countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam while some firms even procure Japan’s 10-year-old ships.