Cynthia Villar: PCG, MARINA must prove they weren't responsible for MT Princess Empress sailing
Senator Cynthia Villar on Saturday said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) must prove that they had no fault after allowing the ill-fated MT Princess Empress to sail despite the absence of a necessary license.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment, natural resources and climate change, was responding to the question of whether the PCG and MARINA would face complaints if it were discovered that they had committed lapses.
"Magcommittee report kami and then yung appropriate agency magfa-file ng case and then i-prove nila na wala silang fault. We follow the course of justice," she said in a radio interview.
(We will make a committee report, and then the appropriate agency will file a case. They must prove that they were not at fault. We follow the course of justice.)
Asked if there is a possibility that some officials of the PCG and MARINA colluded to allow the ill-fated motor tanker to sail despite the lack of documents, Villar said, "Definitely yan na yun. Oo, wala naman nagbabago sa ganyan palagi naman may ganyan di ba?"
(Definitely, that's it. Yes, nothing has changed. There's always something like that, right?)
GMA News Online sought comment from the PCG and MARINA, but they have yet to respond as of this posting.
Department of Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano earlier said there was apparent negligence on the part of the agencies. An inter-agency committee is already looking into the issues surrounding the oil spill.
Villar said the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker in Oriental Mindoro has caused billions of pesos' worth of damage and affected the livelihoods of the residents, particularly fishermen.
"Medyo mabigat to ang laki ng damage eh. Billions ang damage nito eh, [chinecheck] namin ang maitutulong ng gobyerno sa mga taong affected because this will stop fishing in the area for six months minimum," she said.
(The extent of damage is quite heavy. The damage is worth billions of pesos. We are checking what the government can do to help the affected people because they will stop fishing in the area for a minimum of six months.)
"Susuportahan mo yung hindi mga nakapagfishing di ba? Like emergency employment tapos maglilinis ka pa, magkano ang gagastusin mo para linisin ito, tapos kapag exposed ka dito pwedeng magkakasakit ka, so may gastos din ang Department of Health (DOH) dyan," she added.
(You have to give support to those who cannot fish, like emergency employment, and then you're going to clean up; how much will it cost? If you are exposed to the oil spill, you might get sick, so the Department of Health will also have to spend.)
Meanwhile, Villar said Charter change has always been "unpopular" amid current efforts to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
"In my experience, Cha-cha is always unpopular, kaya hindi ako confident dyan. From my past experience marami na rin nag Cha-cha. Ayaw ng tao 'yan, kung ayaw ng tao bakit natin gagawin?" the veteran lawmaker said.
(In my experience, Cha-cha is always unpopular; that's why I'm not confident in it. From my past experience, many people have proposed Cha-cha. People don't want that; if people don't want it, why should we do it?)
On Thursday, Senator Robinhood Padilla, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said he would continue to push for the economic charter change "despite criticisms from some sectors."
On March 6, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6, which calls for a constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the Constitution.
This aims to limit the Cha-cha initiative to the economic provisions of the constitution "to attract more foreign investments."
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has already said that Cha-cha is not a priority of his administration. — VBL, GMA Integrated News