Shipping line owner cries harassment

by Gemi Formaran March 24, 2021 SSLI owner Merian Reyes LUCENA C...

by Gemi Formaran
March 24, 2021

SSLI owner Merian Reyes

LUCENA CITY--- A business woman in this city who owns a shipping company operating in Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol regions assailed the members of Sangguniang Bayan of San Pascual in Masbate province over alleged abuse of power.

Merian Reyes who owns Starhorse Shipping Lines, Inc. (SSLI) based in this city branded as clear harassment the Council's move to have its missionary route status cancelled.

SSLI operates a roll-on, roll-off (Ro/Ro) vessel that plies San Pascual, Masbate-- Pasacao, Camarines Sur and vice- versa.

In two consecutive resolutions authored by Councilor Rani Laurian Sia, the council asked the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Regional Office in Legazpi City, Albay to cancell the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) granted to the SSLI to ply the route of San Andres, Quezon- San Pascual, Masbate- Pasacao, Camarines Sur and vice- versa.

Sia's moved was triggered by SSLI's cessation of its operation for 11 months from March 17, 2020 to February 17, 2021 allegedlly "resulting to the disruption of service thereby prejudicing the general public for depriving the latter of a public transport service within the said route".

But Reyes explained that they ceased the operation following the government's declaration of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March 2020 prohibiting the transport of passengers and restricted trade and inter- island interface.

"Unfortunately, even with the lifting of the ECQ status in all parts of the country in June 2020, Masbate Provincial Governor Antonio Kho, who also operates a shipping company, issued Executive Order No. 211 which excludes the Port of San Pascual among the designated ports of entry within Masbate stopping us from resuming our operation in the said missionary route", said Reyes.

She explained that SSLI was finally allowed to resume its operation in December, but it did not start immediately for security reasons.

It can be recalled that M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI being operated by SSLI was attacked by armed men while berthed at the Port of San Pascual on February 11, 2020. An explosive was hurled on its uppermost deck damaging its life rings and the airconditioning condenser of the ship while its stern side was peppered with bullets.

The case remains unsolved.

Aside from M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI owned by Reyes, it was learned that San Pascual Mayor Maxim Lazaro owns cargo ship M/B Maxim operating in Masbate. Lazaro is a political ally of Gov. Kho who owns Kho Shipping Lines which operates passenger and cargo ships in the area.

The governor's Provincial Attorney, Rannie Sia is the father of Concilor Sia who has been initiating the cancellation of SSLI's CPC.

Reyes clarified that SSLI continues to operate in the area due to strong clamor of the people there.

"If not for them, we would have stopped operating there long time ago for fear of our lives and safety of our ship", Reyes said.


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