Owner of MT Princess Empress no-show in House probe
MANILA, Philippines — The owner of the sunken oil tanker which caused an oil spill in the waters of Oriental Mindoro was a no show at a House of Representatives hearing on Tuesday, much to the dismay of lawmakers.
The House committee on ecology and natural resources probe on the MT Princess Empress was only attended by several agencies, including the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Department of Justice, while only the captain of the sunken ship and his lawyer, with no other representatives, were present.
“Bakit napayagan ito (MT Princess Empress) [maglayag], bakit wala dito may ari ng M/V Princess Empress?” asked Gabriela partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas.
(Why was the MT Princess Empress allowed to sail? Why is the owner of MT Princess Empress not here?)
“Hindi puwede na ‘yung iniimbestigahan natin wala dito (The one who were are investigating should be here),” she added.
Brosas said the owner should be physically present in the hearing, as well as the ship’s captain who was only attending online through Zoom.
House committee on natural resources chair Elpidio Barzaga Jr. concurred with Brosas, ordering the summon of the owner, along with other resource persons in the next scheduled hearing.
Among the persons to be summoned were three of the ship’s agents who submitted a Marina-amended Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) to the PCG prior to being allowed to sail.
Marina, during the hearing, however, denied having processed the certificate, with lawmakers concluding that the document was falsified as it contained the signature of a Marina official who already died a year before it was issued.
It can be recalled that MT Princess Empress was carrying over 900,000 liters of industrial fuels when it sank off the waters of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, threatening several provinces’ marine ecosystems, coastal communities and even tourism.