Probe launched over 'permit' shown by MT Princess Empress

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel and Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2023 07:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 15 2023 11:50 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE)- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday said it has launched an investigation to find out whether MT Princess Empress presented authentic documents to be allowed to set sail before it sank last Feb. 28 and contaminated the waters of Oriental Mindoro with industrial fuel oil. 

PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said on Feb. 27, MT Princess Empress showed the PCG Manila station an amended Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), supposedly issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

A CPC is authorization given to a vessel for domestic water transportation service for commercial or public use.

"So this is the CPC as submitted to us by Coast Guard station Manila last Feb. 27 nung dumaan yung MT Princess Empress. So apat na beses nang ginamit ito ng nasabing barko sa mga transaction nya sa PCG, one in Manila, one in Cebu, one in Misamis Oriental, and isang beses sa Iloilo," Balilo said.

"As far as we're concerned relied on this document kaya namin pinayagan yung barko na maglayag," he added.

During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Marina said they have yet to issue an amended CPC to RDC Reield Marine Services allowing their tanker MT Princess Empress to operate. 

However, senators found out that MT Princess Empress was able to sail 9 times even without the said permit from Marina. 

Senators then lambasted PCG and accused them of negligence.

Balilo said they want to find out if the vessel presented them authentic documents to be allowed to sail.

PCG to investigate franchise documents of MT Princess Empress
PCG to investigate franchise documents of MT Princess Empress. Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

"Yung pirma ba ay original? Yung Marina ba ay mag-agree dito? May denial yung may-ari ng barko sa Senate. Eh ano itong binibigay niyo sa amin kung naglalayag kayo? That has to be explained," Balilo said.

Balilo said an investigation is underway.

"Bagamat naniniwala tayo na ang meron talagang responsibilidad na mag-declare ng tama at magbigay ng mga tamang documents ay yung ship captain, hindi natin tinatanggal kung may usapin ng pananagutan. Nag-utos na po ng investigation at kung mapatunayan na merong lapses ang PCG, hindi natin ito-tolerate," Balilo said.

The motor tanker Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil, sank near the Verde Island Passage — one of the most biodiverse marine habitats in the planet.

An environmental group said the damage from the oil spill is "extensive" and will be felt for decades.



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