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Coast Guard checking validity of sunken motor tanker's CPC

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday said it is checking the validity of the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of MT Princess Empress following questions that it sailed without such permit.

“We relied on the CPC para payagan ‘yung barko na maglayag,” said PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armando Balilo in a press conference.

He said the Coast Guard relied on the presumption of regularity of the documents that were issued last November 16, 2022. He added they were presented to the PCG and showed that they were validated by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

“So this is the certificate of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) that was submitted to us to Coast Guard Station Manila last February 27, noong dumaan ‘yung Motor Vehicle Princess Empress,” he said.

“To effect the Permanent Addition of the ship/tanker. M/TKR "PRINCESS EMPRESS*, to the company's feet, to operate in the tramping service for the carriage of persistent oil (black products), to any port in the Philippines, effective from date hereof valid until the expiration of the company's CPC on 00 February 2042, pursuant to Section 7.11,” it said.

Balilo noted that the said ship was used four times in the transactions with the PCG – one each in Manila, Cebu, Misamis Oriental, and Iloilo City.

“Pinache-check pa namin ‘yung ibang mga bayan kung saan siya dumaong, kung may inspeksyon na ginawa at kung may sinubmit na CPC. Pero as far as we are concerned we relied on this document kaya namin pinayagan ‘yung barko na maglayag,” he added.

“Pinapa-check namin yung validity ng CPC, sinasama na namin sa investigation,” he said, noting that it is not easy to determine whether the document is fake or not.

Balilo added that PCG would investigate if its boarding team did not inspect MT Princess Empress before it sailed last February 27.

The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28, carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel. Oil spills were reported in several areas in Mindoro, prompting the coastal town of Pola to declare a state of calamity.

According to the PCG, the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said more than 2,000 hectares of coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass could be affected.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has placed an oil spill boom to contain the spill while the clean-up operations are ongoing.—LDF/RSJ, GMA Integrated News