Philippines ferry disaster not 'act of God', says bishop

|PIC1|A senior Catholic bishop has accused Filipino ferry line officials of trying to wash their hands of responsibility after one of their passenger vessels capsized last month.

Officials at Sulpicio Lines had claimed that the tragedy was "an act of God".

Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, however, expressed his anger with the ferry company in an interview with Radio Veritas, a Christian station based in Manila.

"That is not an act of God...That is human error...They should ask themselves if this is an act of human imprudence," he said.

"Don't put the blame on God if man erred or if man made a wrong decision. The way I see it, they [Sulpicio Lines] don't want to admit that they made a mistake."

He also rebuked the shipping company for blaming God for the conditions that led to the capsizing, saying that company officials and shipping authorities should take responsibility.

"The officials of Sulpicio Lines should not blame others for the tragic incident, which could have been avoided if company officials have acted with prudence," he said.

"The captain of the ship made a decision, marina authorities made a decision. They allowed the ship to sail against better judgment of the authorities so don't blame God for man's mistakes," Bishop Bacani said.

Edgar Go, First Vice-President at Sulpicio Line, said earlier that sudden bad weather conditions were to blame for the capsizing of the passenger vessel during last Wednesday's hearing of the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI).

The 23,000 tonne MV Princess of the Star capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon after developing engine troubles and being battered by strong waves at the height of Typhoon Frank last Saturday. The bodies of more than 800 passengers and crew remain trapped inside.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) has already ordered the BMI to investigate the tragedy.