Grandma files P1M suit against Trans-Asia
A shipping company in Cebu City is facing trial after a passenger on board one of its vessels went missing on the way to Cagayan de Oro last February.
Trans-Asia Shipping Lines was sued before the Regional Trial Court for failing to secure 26-year-old Ronie Pajares, and for allegedly not doing anything to find him.
Pajares remains missing.
His grandmother Florentina Flores and mother Luvis sought the intervention of the court to hold the shipping company liable for negligence and breach of contract.
Assisted by lawyers Jerone Castillo and Floro Casa Jr., the complainants requested the court to order Trans-Asia to pay P85,714 in actual damages, P500,000 as moral damages, P500,000 as exemplary damages, and at least P100,000 to cover the costs of litigation.
Pinky Sy, an official of Trans-Asia, declined to issue any statement yesterday, saying they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint.
Florentina alleged that she and Pajares decided to travel from Cebu City to Cagayan de Oro via MV Trans Asia 3.
She said they boarded the vessel at 8 p.m. last Feb. 15. Florentina said Pajares had a stomachache when they left the port of Cebu.
While on their way to Cagayan de Oro, Florentina said she and Pajares stayed at their assigned cots.
Florentina said she eventually fell asleep, but when she woke up at 10 p.m., she noticed her grandson was no longer on his cot.
She said she began to worry when she saw Pajares’ slippers, but the teenager was nowhere to be found.
A security guard assisted her in looking for Pajares who was wearing a white sando and green shorts when the incident happened. Two other passengers later told Florentina that they saw someone, who was wearing a sando, fell into the sea at around 9 p.m.
After the incident was reported, Florentino said no one from the management and crew of the shipping lines exerted efforts to look for Pajares.
The management also did not report the incident to the Philippine Coast Guard for a possible search and rescue operation.
When the vessel docked in Cagayan de Oro, the following day, security guards told her to carefully look at the disembarking passengers to see if her grandson was among them.
Florentina did not find Pajares. Florentina’s daughter Luvis then arrived and was surprised to learn that her son was missing.
Upon verification and inquiry with the Philippine Coast Guard, it was confirmed that Pajares was in the vessel manifest.
The Philippine Coast Guard station in Cagayan de Oro also said they did not receive any report from the shipping lines regarding what happened to Pajares.
Pajares’ mother and grandmother filed a complaint against Trans-Asia before the Maritime Police Station in Cagayan de Oro, and the Maritime Industry Authority for failure to immediately respond to the emergency.
They lodged a marine protest before the Philippine Coast Guard.
Under the New Civil Code of the Philippines, “a common carrier is bound to carry its passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide…”
“In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observe extraordinary diligence…,” read the law stated by the complainant’s lawyers.
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