Justice secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the government is now gathering information for the possible filing of complaint against those liable for the sinking of the MT Princess Empress which leaked its cargo of 800,000 liters of industrial oil.
“We are sorting out the evidence so that we can file the proper complaint, collate all the data. As far as we’re concerned, there are possible cases to be filed,” Remulla told media, adding the cases may be filed next next Tuesday by the DOJ.
Remulla said the DOJ is looking at all angles including environmental damage, health risks, damage to biodiversity, among others – with a planned visit at the sinking site to validate their initial findings and enable them to devise strategies.
Initial finding indicates the ship was a scrap ship that was rebuilt twice to become a tanker and there were misrepresentations made with the condition of the vessel, since the owners told the DOJ and the Philippine Coast Guard last Saturday that the vessel was only two years old, which is new by Philippine standards.
Remulla added that initial investigations also suggested that a similar near sinking of the vessel had happened before, and that on the day before the incident, a warning was sent against its sailing due to gale conditions.
The MT Princess Empress sank off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on February 28 and eventually sank the following day. It has caused a widescale oil spill into the Tablas Strait that has reached as far as the provinces of Antique and Palawan.
The oil spill has already affected nine municipalities in Oriental Mindoro (Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Basud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay and Bulalacao); one in Antique (Caluya); and two in Palawan (Taytay and Agutaya); with more than 137,000 individuals affected.
In Oriental Mindoro alone, the DOJ said more than 99,000 people have been affected, 122 of whom have fallen ill.