7 Chinese in boat collision face multiple homicide
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) filed on Monday charges of multiple homicide against seven Chinese crewmen of the cargo ship Vienna Wood as the 14 crew and passengers of the fishing vessel Liberty 5 they collided with remain missing more than a week after it sank off the coast of Mamburao town in Occidental Mindoro province.
Commodore Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, said they filed charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property against the shipping company, master and officers of the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier at the Occidental Mindoro provincial prosecutor’s office.
Charged were ship owner Nomikos Transworld Maritime, ship master Zhang Weiwei, and ship officers Shi Bin, Yi Lei, Yang Xileng, Fan Qoujin, Xia Zhen and Wang Xingtu, all Chinese nationals.
The complaint against four of the 20 crew of Vienna Wood came more than a week after their ship collided with Liberty 5 off Barangay Tayamaan in Mamburao late Saturday night. The 12 Filipino fishermen and two passengers aboard the Navotas-bound fishing vessel remain missing as of Monday.
The PCG extended until Tuesday its search and retrieval operations for the 14 Filipinos after which, efforts would be scaled down.
The Coast Guard commandant, Vice Adm. George Ursabia Jr., said that while Vienna Wood had enough lifeboats on deck, its crew did not deploy anyw of these boats to rescue or provide assistance to the ill-fated fishing vessel. Instead, it relied on seven other vessels in the area to respond.
These responders and other fishermen were interviewed by the Coast Guard and serve as witnesses to the case against the Chinese crew.
The PCG will seek a hold departure order against the crew of Vienna Wood, after the filing of criminal charges.
On Monday, the PCG submitted to provincial prosecutor Rowena Garcia-Villaflores the sworn statements of some fishermen and responding PCG divers, who happened to be on the scene shortly after the June 28 sea collision, said Leovigildo Panopio, PCG commander in Southern Tagalog.