17 July 2006
LEGAZPI CITY—RELATIVES OF victims of the May 12 sinking of the MB Mae Ann 5 off Masbate City at the height of tropical storm “Caloy” can expect very little help from the government in terms of financial assistance, the Office of Civil Defense said.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) has released a memorandum ordering a stop in the processing of requests for financial assistance.
NDCC executive officer Glenn Rabonza blamed the sea tragedy on the boat’s owner, skipper, crew and ticket seller who, he said, should be the ones to help the victims’ relatives.
Last month, relatives of the 27 passenger victims were at a loss on how to claim compensation from the vessel’s owner, Lobrigo Shipping Lines (LSL). With the latest NDCC memorandum, their hope for government assistance has been dashed away, too.
Nestor Lobrigo of LSL said he had already extended financial assistance to 10 of the victims. However, he said there was a limit to what the company could give.
“We cannot shoulder everything because it will be tantamount to our admission that the tragedy was all our fault, when, in fact, it was just an accident,” Lobrigo said in a phone interview.
Those who have not yet received compensation will also be paid, Lobrigo said, but he could not say when.
OCD regional police officer Cherry Abion has clarified the NDCC policies on financial assistance.
It covers only casualties of natural disasters, such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, lightnings and epidemics.
Victims of manmade disasters, such as fires, vehicular accidents, bombings, air and sea accidents, are not covered.
Relatives of the dead will receive P10,000, while P5,000 will be given to the injured. The amounts will be drawn from the NDCC calamity fund.
All claims are only valid within one year from the time the disaster or calamity occurred. Ephraim Aguilar, PDI Southern Luzon Bureau