CA keeps decision clearing Sulpicio exec over ship sinking

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has maintained its decision clearing a top official of Sulpicio Lines, Inc. (SLI) of criminal liability over the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars in June 2008 off Romblon.

In a three-page resolution, the CA Former 15th Division found no reason to reverse its March 2013 ruling that junked charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Sulpicio’s first vice president for administration, Edgar Go, with the Manila Regional Trial Court branch 5.

Go was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, damage to property and serious physical injury for not instructing the vessel to seek shelter or drop anchor at the height of Typhoon Frank (international name: Fengshen) on June 21, 2008.

But the CA ruled it is the responsibility of the ship’s captain, Florencio Marimon, in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), to decide matters pertaining to the vessel’s navigation at sea.

Go’s position only allows him to supervise personnel who perform liaison work with government agencies for compliance with statutory permits, certificates and franchises, the Court said.

The DOJ and the relatives of the victims appealed the decision, insisting that Go, as an officer and Sulpicio owner, cannot disown liability for the lapses of their employee, Marimon.

“After a circumspect review, this Court finds no compelling reason to reconsider the March 22 decision. The grounds raised in the motions and the arguments advanced in support thereof are mere reiterations of those already exhaustively considered by the Court, and no substantial reason is presented that has not been previously invoked or passed upon,” the CA said on January 8.

Sought for comment, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta said in a text message that they will elevate the case to the Supreme Court (SC).

The Cebu-bound ship capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon, leaving 227 people dead and 592 missing. Only 32 people survived.

The incident, considered one of the world's biggest maritime disasters, prompted Sulpicio to change its name in 2009 after incurring losses because of the tragedy. (Sunnex)

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