The National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division on Tuesday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to criminally prosecute those responsible for the sinking of MT Princess Empress which caused an oil spill in Oriental Mindoro and parts of Batangas province.
The complaints were filed more than three months after the ill-fated tanker which was carrying around 900, 000 liters of industrial fuel sank off the coast of Oriental Mindoro due to engine trouble and rough seas.
DOJ spokesman Jose Dominic Clavano said that 35 individuals were included in the complaint, including the owners of MT Princess Empress, government regulators and officials of other agencies.
Clavano said that charged for falsification of the certificate of public convenience or CPC are seven incorporators and directors of RDC Reield Marine Services Company, the company that owns the oil tanker, the MT Princess Empress captain and six crew members and 19 from th Philippine Coast Guard of varying ranks.
“The document falsified is the certificate of public convenience or CPC. The issuance of an authenticated form of a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists,” Clavano said, in an online briefing.
The DOJ official said Reield officials are “presumed to be the authors of the falsified documents” as he, added, they were in possession of the same and made use of the document.
“They also benefited from the use of falsified document,” he added.
As to the captain and crew of the oil tanker, Clavano said they are likewise liable as they are considered general agents of the ship owner.
“The PCG is also liable as they conduct pre-departure inspection for domestic oil tankers prior to voyage, and first and foremost, on their checklist is to check the validity of the CPC,” he said.
As to the second charge of multiple counts of falsification of public documents under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code-the documents falsified are the construction certificate and tonnage measurement certificate and certificate of ownership and certificate of Philippine Registry.
Clavano said the director of the Maritime Industry Authority-Region 5 and head of Marina shipyard and two Reield officials should be held liable.
“The officials from Marina and RDC conspired for the purpose of illegally registering the MT Princess Empress with false documents,” Clavano said.
Two Reield officials are also held liable for perjury for issuing falsified construction certificate in favor of MT Princess Empress.
“The two company officials through the falsified construction certificate and the perjured affidavit of ownership and builders certificate obtained the tonnage measurement certificate signed by engineers of Marina,” he said.
Clavano said Pola, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Jennifer Cruz also stood as a complainant in the case.
Pola was among the towns that sustained the most damage from the oil spill.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla vowed there would be criminal liability for all those involved in the sinking of the oil tanker.
“All the details of the oil spill we want to get it too because we think that there should be liabilities here, there should be criminal liability involved in this case,” Remulla told reporters in a previous interview.
The DOJ has tapped the NBI to probe the liability of the ship owner and others involved in the sinking.
Last April, Maritime Industry Authority Deputy Administrator Sonia Malaluan said the agency found probable cause to file charges against the owner of MT Princess Empress.
It can be recalled that on March 23, MARINA issued a cease and desist order against RDC Reield Marine Services, the company that owns the sunken oil tanker.
Covered by the cease and desist order are the company’s certificate of public convenience and its remaining three vessels.
The remaining three vessels include two tankers and a passenger vessel.
The cease and desist order will remain in force pending the result of the investigation on the February 28 sinking.