MANILA — The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is considering grounding other ships of the owner of the sunken tanker that caused a massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.
According to Marina's legal service director Sharon Aledo, RDC Reield Marine Services, the owner of MT Princess Empress, has 2 more vessels.
"With the clarificatory hearing held yesterday, the possibility of suspending... the company CPC (certificate of public convenience) was already discussed and it's going to be possible," she told ANC's "Headstart".
CPC is an authority issued to a domestic water transport service provider to operate a vessel for commercial or public use, for which no franchise, either municipal or legislative, is required by law, according to Marina.
Senators found out this week that the tanker was not authorized to operate in the domestic trade.
But it was able to sail 9 times before it sank on February 28, officials of RDC Reield Marine Services told lawmakers.
"There is a violation and it will be determined after due process of our governing law in this particular case, which is the Domestic Shipping Development Act or RA 9295," Aledo said.
New findings have also emerged that the Princess Empress was not a brand-new vessel as initially claimed by the owners. It turned out to be rebuilt scrap ship.
"Per our records, the Certificate of Philippine Registry states that the motor tanker Princess Empress year built is 2022," Aledo said.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla has also said that the tanker set sail despite gale warnings.
Marina is conducting 2 investigations, including a marine casualty investigation to determine the cause of the incident and an administrative inquiry to look into the certificates.
"I think we are on time on our actions taken and we hope to expedite matters as we would like also on our part go to the bottom of the matter," Aledo said.
The Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it went down in rough seas off Mindoro, south of the capital Manila.
The submerged tanker is believed to be about 400 meters below the waves.
More than 2,500 hectares of coral reefs, mangroves and seaweed could be affected by the spill, the environment ministry said previously.
It is not known how much diesel and oil have leaked into the water.
The Philippine Coast Guard has found oil as far away as Casian Island, off the north coast of the western island of Palawan.
Thousands of fishermen have been ordered to stay on shore until they can fish safely, and swimming is also banned.
— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse
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