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MARINA probes personnel over sinking of MT Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is now investigating its personnel after the sunken MT Princess Empress caused an oil spill that affected almost a hundred thousand residents in Oriental Mindoro, GMA Integrated News’ Joseph Morong reported on “Balitanghali” Friday.

MARINA spokesperson Atty. Sharon Aledo said among those under probe was the agency’s regional director.

Prior to this, the agency conducted a fact-finding investigation and will issue possible recommendations and violations on the matter.

The MARINA Anti-Graft Corruption Committee will issue a show cause order to its personnel, including its regional director in Bicol, according to the "24 Oras" report on Friday.

Based on the investigation, the regulations were violated when it allowed the construction of MT Princess Empress and allegedly gave a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), as the ship owner insisted.

“We will look into the alleged violation of these MARINA circulars pagdating po doon sa naging (including the) construction niya hanggang sa (to the) issuance po ng (of) statutory certificates including registration and safety certificates,” Aledo said.

The MARINA also maintained that the vessel had no CPC to sail, which it did 17 times before it sank in Oriental Mindoro.

Meanwhile, the MARINA Regional Office V confirmed that there was an investigation, however, they do not know the result yet.

"No permanent addition of ship has yet to be approved for this particular vessel," Aledo said.

The MARINA-NCR also suspended the CPC of the RDC Reield Marine Services, the company that owns the sunken MT Princess Empress.

The company, however, can appeal and has 15 days before the decision will become final.

At least three vessels of the company —two tankers and one passenger vessel — will be prohibited to sail once the decision of MARINA will become final.

The RDC Reield was fined P100,000 for operating without authority.

“We have had sinkings before but no one has been held to account. This time all parties, whether private or public, will be held accountable. There will be no exception,” Department of Transportation (DOTr)  Secretary Jaime Bautista said.

Bautista said the DOTr is also investigating the maritime authorities personnel on the incident.

The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Najuan, Oriental Mindoro while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel, affecting almost a hundred thousand residents in the province.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) received P33.5 million from the oil pollution management fund that is used for the continuous clean-up in Oriental Mindoro. — Richa Noriega/RSJ/ VAL, GMA Integrated News