Owners of MV Mercraft 2 face criminal raps, franchise cancellation if found negligent in fire
MANILA, Philippines — The owners and operators of MV Mercraft 2 may face criminal charges and franchise suspension if investigati0ns being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard showed negligence on their part that resulted in the death of passengers.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said the PCG now has custody of the captain of the sunken vessel, which caught fire on Monday leaving seven people dead.
“Lahat ay titingnan natin,” he said over ABS-CBN News. “Tayo naman ay nakatutok doon sa investigation at hawak na rin po natin ‘yung kapitan and any time, ‘yung mga crew naman ay ipapatawag na rin natin.”
(We’re looking into everything. We’re monitoring the investigation. We have the captain [in custody] and any time, we can also call in the crew members.)
Balilo said the investigation should be completed within one week, after which a report will be submitted to the Department of Transportation.
“May bilin na po si Secretary Arthur Tugade dito na madaliin, tingnan lahat ng anggulo at kung merong dapat managot, dapat na panagutin,” Balilo said.
(Secretary Arthur Tugade has directed them to expedite the investigation, look into all possible angles. And if anyone is responsible for the incident, they should be held accountable.)
Should the investigation reveal negligence on the part of the company, its franchise may be suspended and those liable could face appropriate charges, the spokesman added.
“Maari pong makansela ‘yung prangkisa nila at maari po silang ma-filean ng criminal liability kung sakaling lumabas sa investigation na mayroong kapabayaan… Depende kung anong magiging ebidensya at magiging direksyon ng investigation, kung talagang mapatunayan na sila ay culpable, kahit sino ay pwedeng makasuhan,” Balilo stressed.
(The company’s franchise can be cancelled and a criminal liability case can also be filed against them if the investigation shows negligence on their part… It depends on the evidence and the direction of the investigation, but if it can be proven that they’re culpable, cases may be filed against them.)
Meanwhile, Polillo Island Mayor Cristina Bosque urged that the company’s operations be suspended since a similar Mercraft tragedy also occurred in December 2017.
“Alarming po talaga dahil parang second time nang nangyari ‘to. Ayaw na naming matatluhan pa ito,” Bosque said in a separate interview with ABS-CBN News.
(It’s really alarming since this is the second time it has happened. We don’t want it to happen for a third time.)
On Monday, a fire broke out on MV Mercraft 2 bound for Real, Quezon.
According to PCG, all 127 passengers have been accounted for, including seven confirmed fatalities. Some wounded survivors have been admitted to Clara M. Recto Memorial Hospital, while others are being treated in different hospitals in Lucena and Metro Manila.
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