THE National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division (NBI-ECD) yesterday filed criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 35 individuals, including coast guard personnel and the owners MT Princess Empress which sank off the waters of Oriental Mindoro last February, causing an oil spill that reached the waters of Batangas and several other provinces.
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 the Philippine Coast Guard of varying ranks.
“Issuance of an authenticated form, a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists. RDC Reield directors are presumed to be the authors of the falsified document as they were in possession of the same and made use of the document,” DOJ Spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano said.
Clavano also noted that the owners of MT Princess benefitted from the use of the falsified document.
The captains of the vessel are likewise liable as they are considered general agents of the shipowner, according to Clavano.
As for the PCG personnel, Clavaro said they were found liable “as they conduct pre-departure inspections for domestic oil tankers prior to voyage, and first and foremost on their checklist is to check the validity of the CPC.”
On the other hand, a director and a head of Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) in Region 5 along with two officials of RDC were charged for falsification of construction certificate and tonnage measurement; certificate and certificate of ownership; and certificate of Philippine registry .
“The officials from MARINA and RDC Reield Marine Services Inc., allegedly conspired for the purpose of illegally registering the MT Princess Empress with false documents,” Clavano explained.
Likewise, two officials of RDC were charged with perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code.
Among the documents allegedly perjured were the supporting documents to apply for a tonnage measurement certificate.
“The two company officials, through the falsified construction certificate, and the perjured affidavit of ownership and builder’s certificate, obtained the tonnage measurement certificate signed by the engineers of MARINA. The certificate was issued in favor of MT Princess Empress,” Clavano said.
Clavano said Pola, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Jennifer Cruz also stood as a complainant in the case aside from the NBI.
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.
Last April, MARINA Deputy Administrator Sonia Malaluan said the agency found probable cause to file charges against the owner of MT Princess Empress.
MARINA has also issued a cease and desist order preventing RDC Reield Marine Services from further operating its three remaining vessels.
The DOJ also said it is still determining the possibility of filing environmental crimes and graft and corruption charges in the coming weeks.
Image credits: Oceana