A Provincial Board (OB) member expressed dismay over Ocean Jet’s alleged “lack of protocol and accountability” when one of the shipping firm’s vessels was stalled mid sea after hitting what were believed to have been corals.
In a privilege speech, ex-officio PB Member Gloria Gementiza said that passengers of the Ocean Jet 168 including herself and second district Rep. Vanessa Aumentado panicked after hearing a loud thud from under the vessel.
The sea craft, which was travelling from Bohol to Siquijor on Friday last week, stopped mid sea after the impact.
“A few moments later, the boat stops sailing leaving us passengers nervous and confused. Not a single announcement for the boat’s captain o crew members were made on what was really going on,” said Gementiza.
According to the provincial lawmaker, the vessel sailed back to Tagbilaran City port safely but they were never informed on what happened.
“This does not remove the fact that Ocean Jet does not have proper protocol for these types of situations. They failed to give proper information to the passengers as to what happened. They were not able to ease the feeling of fear and confusion of the people on board,” she added.
Gementiza explained that the vessel was traversing a three-province route from Cebu to Bohol, then to Siquijor.
She said the passengers were made to choose between a refund for their tickets or a free trip back to Cebu.
She noted that this was unfair, particularly for those who were travelling from Cebu.
“This may sound fair [free trip], but it is not because aside from the wasted time, the amount paid for the trip was considered quits. They should have offered a free trip back to Cebu and a refund, not a choice between the two,” said Gementiza.
The lawmaker also asserted that Ocean Jet should have also shouldered the accommodation of those who needed it.
“It is also possible that some passengers came from farther places and had to stay in hotels or inns before travelling. Some might have brought just enough money and can’t afford to book another room, just to wait for the next trip the day after,” she added.
Meanwhile, both Ocean Jet and the vessel’s captain, Celestino Alemandres have been sanctioned for the incident.
Suspended vessel, captain
In two separate orders, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) announced the suspension of the trips of Ocean Jet 168 considering that it was found out to have incurred damages to its propeller following the incident.
Marina, through its Central Visayas director Emmanuel Carpio, suspended the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate of the vessel pending an inspection to be conducted by the agency to determine its seaworthiness.
“The suspension of the PPSCThe suspension of the PSSC shall last until notice of this office and upon favorable reccoendation by Martina after through investigation and survey of the vessel,” Carpio.
In a separate letter, Carpio also ordered the indefinite suspension of Alemandres due to the incident. (A. Doydora)