Sea tragedy attracts the vultures, blue or otherwise
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-07-08
Vultures are known to show up whenever there are dead bodies available for the despicable scavengers to feast on. The sinking of the Sulpicio Lines flagship Princess of the Stars was just too tempting for the vultures to pass up.

That power of attorney document the kin of the sea tragedy victims are being sweet-talked to sign reeks of vulture predation. The power of attorney document, if signed, will give the document holder the right to receive the money due the victims’ kin. Whether Sulpicio Lines (and this was denied by them) or some enterprising con man circulated it does not lessen the darkness of a soul that is ever too willing to cheat poor, hapless victims.

It is the ugliest face of predation and exploitation. Many of the victims of the sea tragedy in Romblon come from the lower income strata of society. They are the ones who have no choice but to ride ships instead of taking the faster and safer air transport. Affordability is the prime consideration why they sail on board the ships of a maritime company with just about the worst track record in sea tragedies.

Because of their station in life and largely owing to the realities of the justice system in the Philippines — they are unable to avail of what are really due them and that’s assuming that they are even aware of their rights. Even if they know that they can press for more compensation from the shipping company, they decide to settle for the money offered them, in this recent sea tragedy — P200,000.

They cannot afford the cost of litigation. They live a hand-to-mouth, daily income existence and thus cannot afford the time it will take to appear in court in order to press their case. They also simply cannot afford to lose the P200,000 now being offered to them.

Just what kind of low-life would take advantage of such persons who are deep into grief and desperation as the kin of the victims of Princess of the Stars? Even the real vultures will probably disown resorting to such low-life methods.

Taking advantage of people who are desperate and grieving is counter culture to what is truly Filipino. A Filipino is one who will easily empathize with the victims and the underdogs — probably because many of them are victims and underdogs. Vulture culture is un-Filipino, un-Christian even.

From what I know about our Muslim brothers, they too do not behave like vultures in the face of such human tragedy. That is the bare minimum for qualifying as a decent human being, a person with a conscience, a soul with a moral compass.

But even if you find these vultures abhorrent — they simply do not compare to the vultures that are now pushing for a government takeover of Sulpicio Lines. Using the Princess of the Stars sea tragedy as an excuse to take over the shipping firm is big time avarice which is characteristic of Blue Vultures, the variety that has been plundering the country.

Even the PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and MBC (Makati Business Club) — two business groups that normally do not relish taking the same position on issues — were quick to shoot down the government float of a takeover of Sulpicio Lines.

MBC’s Bertie Lim is right — government has a dismal track record in running companies. In fact, I would consider that statement of Bertie Lim a diplomatic remark. If government does takeover Sulpicio Lines, expect worse and more frequent sea tragedies. Corruption and mismanagement, hallmarks of government operations, can easily make the Titanic and Doña Paz sea tragedies appear as mere “oversights.”

But what is puzzling is how come the government suddenly reversed a previous announcement that ruled out a Sulpicio Lines take over. Shutting down Sulpicio Lines is understandable and perhaps even justified. But a takeover of the shipping firm that provides the main sea transport for people and cargo to and fro the south — is totally opportunistic and irresponsible for the government to propose. All the more when one considers that government was just as guilty for the sea tragedy.

Coming as it does on the heels of a recent attempt to take over Meralco, one is led to think that a very greedy vulture, likely a Blue Vulture, is once again on the prowl.

Like Meralco, Sulpicio Lines is not just a potentially lucrative operation to have. Both Meralco and Sulpicio Lines can be considered as vital political assets to own. What Blue Vulture can resist that temptation?

The shipping firm having been condemned by the public and media — a Blue Vulture not biting at the opportunity to take over Sulpicio Lines is like hoping a hungry Great White Shark won’t feast on a bleeding seal right in front of it.

That would be asking too much. It’s like asking the Pope not to be a Catholic or the Rabbi not to be a Jew.

  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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