CA clears Sulpicio exec over sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars

January 24, 2014 4:27 am 

MANILA, Jan. 23 — The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its March 2013 decision clearing an executive of Sulpicio Lines of criminal liability over the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars that killed at least 800 passengers and crew.

In a three-page resolution released on Thursday, the CA’s Former 15th Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and several individuals, saying that they failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of their earlier ruling.

Go has been charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to properties.

However, the CA, in its March 22, 2013 ruling cleared Edgar Go, Vice President for Administration of Sulpicio Lines Incorporated, which owns M/V Princess of the Stars.

In its ruling, the CA said that the DOJ erred when it blamed Go for the sinking of the ship.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Boarding Officer inspected the M/V Princess of the Stars prior to its departure, after checking that the documents are in place, the officer informed Capt. Florencio Marimon that there will be a storm in the area where they will pass.

Marimon presented an alternate route to which the PCG approved thus they were cleared for departure.

“It is clear that petitioner did not have the authority to clear the departure of the vessel and he did not participate in the decision concerning said departure. There is therefore no legal or factual basis for his indictment,” the CA said.

The CA added that the DOJ also erred when Go was held liable for failure to instruct the vessel to seek shelter or drop anchor in the face of the storm.

In their appeal, the DOJ, VACC and several others said that Sulpicio Lines official cannot validly invoke the master's overriding authority clause under Regulation No. 34 of the SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) because an owner and officer of Sulpicio Lines Incorporated, he cannot wash his hands off the liability for the lapses of the ship captain who is merely SLI's agent.

"After a circumspect review, this Court finds no compelling reason to reconsider the March 22, 2013 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.

"Considering the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration and the supplemental motion for reconsideration are denied for lack of merit," the CA added.

Concurring with the CA ruling were Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Franchito Diamante.

M/V Princess of the Stars sunk off the waters of Sibuyan Islands, Romblon province on June 21, 2008 at the height of typhoon “Frank” that claimed the lives of some 800 passengers and crew of the ill-fated ship. (PNA)

LGI/PTR/UTB

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