Coast Guard may start probe on Cebu maritime tragedy Friday
The Philippine Coast Guard may start as early as Friday its investigation into the deadly collision of a passenger vessel and a cargo ship in Cebu waters last Aug. 16.
A report on state-run Philippines News Agency Thursday said the PCG's Special Board of Marine Inquiry had been preparing for the investigation into the incident involving the MV Saint Thomas Aquinas 1 and MV Sulpicio Express 7.
In Manila, Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said the crewmembers of the two ships are in the custody of their companies but will be available if needed.
"May agreement na anytime pinatawag ng Marina or PCG, available sila (There is an agreement that anytime the Maritime Industry Authority or Coast Guard will need to interview them, they will be made available)," Balilo said in an interview on dzBB radio Thursday afternoon.
The PNA report said the special marine board inquiry's head, Commodore Gilbert Rueras, went to Cebu on Thursday to bring together other members of the board, including a master mariner, a chief engineer, and a representative of the Maritime Industry Authority.
It added the board "will most likely start" the formal marine casualty investigation on Friday.
“But even before the SBMI will formally start with the hearing, it is already gathering evidence while its members are here in Manila. What they will do in Cebu is gather the testimonial evidence of witnesses, survivors, crew members, and everyone who may have knowledge in the incident,” PCG Board of Marine Inquiry administrative officer Lt. Ronald Pancipane said.
Hear all sides
Pancipane was quoted in the PNA report as saying the SBMI will hear all sides involved.
It will then submit its report to the PCG District Office Cebu, which in turn will submit it to the Board of Marine Inquiry after review.
The findings will then be given to PCG Commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena for final review.
However, Pancipane said this marine casualty investigation is for policy-making and not for determining criminal liability.
"The criminal cases against those involved in the accident may be filed by the victims’ relatives themselves with the help of any law enforcement agency or the PCG,” he said.
He added the Maritime Industry Authority will look into the civil liability of the parties involved. — ELR, GMA News