SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 August) — The owner of a truck and construction materials that sank with the M/L Sea Star Thursday afternoon at the Surigao Boulevard pier said he will file charges against the boat owner, the arrastre firm and the Philippine Coast Guard.
Sixto Chu, a Tacloban City-based contractor and owner of the truck and other cargo shipment loaded on M/L Roy Sea Star said MAC Arrastre and Stevedoring Services should have provided him a sturdy, registered boat to deliver his cargo to San Jose in Dinagat Islands province.
Chu’s cargo included a ten-wheeler dump truck, a six-wheeler dump truck, 20 pieces of 20-inch culverts and other construction materials for government projects in San Jose.
He said he agreed to pay 55,000 pesos to Roy Acular, the boat owner and captain, for the transport of the cargo to Dinagat and advanced P25,000 to him.
MACArrastre should have known the boat could not carry that load, he said, adding “gabok na man diay ang banka unya pasalig sila nga okay lang” (the boat was not seaworthy after all but they assured me it was).
MAC stands for Marshall A. Catarman, who runs the arrastre and stevedoring services at the Surigao Boulevard.
MindaNews tried to reach Catarman several times but he could not be reached for comment.
Zenmond Duque, Coast Guard Surigao station commander told MindaNews they could not determine the boat’s loading capacity because it had no registration documents.
The culverts and other construction materials had been loaded ahead of the 10-wheeler truck.
“When the truck was loaded on the boat, the boat’s flooring cracked and gave way, sending it and its cargo into the sea,” he said.
The six-wheeler truck would have been loaded after the 10-wheeler.
Duque identified the owner of the boat as Roy Acular, also the captain of the boat who is presently missing.“This guy escaped after the incident,” he said.
Chu claimed he did not know the boat he hired had no registration papers with the Maritime Industry Authority.
He said he is contemplating on pressing charges against the Coast Guard whose office, he said, is very near the Boulevard Pier and which should have known the boat was not registered.
The Coast Guard’s office is some 300 meters away.
He said he was informed that M/L Roy Sea Star had been operating as a cargo boat for a long time.
Chu said he recently acquired for P2.3 million the ten-wheeler truck that went down with the other cargo. He declined to say the worth of the other cargo.
The truck has been retrieved but the rest of the cargo remains underwater.
Duque denied allegations of the boat owner that the P5,000 out of the P25,000 he advanced from Chu, would be “para sa Coast Guard.”
He said they did not receive any amount from the boat owner and that this would not happen under his watch.
Duque added that if the boat owner had come to his office, his boat would have been seized from him for having no documents.
But Duque said he welcomes Chu’s move to file charges against them. “I welcome him to file any charges against us,” he said.
A day before the incident, a big engine machine and a boom truck owned by Palamos Engineering plunged to the sea just a few meters away from where M/L Roy Sea Star plummeted.
Duque said the boom truck was carrying a big engine machine to be loaded on the boat bound for Siargao Island when it went off balance and plunged into the sea. Duque said passenger boats are not allowed to carry that load. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)