NBI slaps raps vs oil tanker execs, PCG members over Mindoro oil spill
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation’s Environmental Crime Division has filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) multiple cases against 35 people over the sinking of MT Princess Empress which caused an oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.
Charged on Monday with falsifying public documents and using falsified documents were seven officials of shipowner RDC Reield Marine Services Inc., six crew members of the oil tanker, and 19 members of the Philippine Coast Guard. Two RDC officials are also facing a complaint for perjury.
On the other hand, charges of falsifying public documents were filed against the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Region V director and the chief of the Marina Shipyard in Region V.
Aside from the NBI, Mayor Jennifer Cruz of Pola, Oriental Mindoro was also a complainant in the case since her town was among those affected by the oil spill.
DOJ spokesperson Jose Clavano, in a briefer on Tuesday, said that officials from Marina and RDC allegedly conspired to illegally register MT Princes Empress using false documents, including a certificate of public convenience (CPC).
“The document falsified is the certificate of public convenience or CPC,” Clavano said, adding that an authenticated copy was issued even though no original document had been issued in the first place. The CPC is a permit given to a domestic water transport service provider which allows it to operate a vessel for commercial or public use.
The NBI also said that the 19 Coast Guard members were liable since they failed to check if the CPC was authentic when they conducted the pre-departure inspection of the oil tanker.
Carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil, MT Princess Empress sank off the coast of Naujan in Oriental Mindoro due to engine trouble on Feb. 28. The oil that leaked from the tanker spread as far as Palawan and Batangas provinces.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources reported the estimated damage to people’s livelihoods at nearly P1 billion, while the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that 172,928 people were affected.