Admin, legal raps await personnel that allowed MT Princess Empress to sail sans permit
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is holding for possible administrative and legal action and deeper probe PCG inspectors who allowed the ill-fated MT Princess Empress to leave port although it had no certificate of public convenience (CPC).
These inspectors are being held in their unit while the PCG is getting more data on the sinking of the tanker that was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil.
This is according to Vice Admiral Rolando Punzulan Jr., PCG deputy commander for operations, who appeared before the Senate committee on environment, natural resources and climate change chaired by Senator Cynthia A. Villar.
The PCG said there was no check on the departure checklist for the presence of a CPC as issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) that is a requirement before a vessel is allowed to leave port.
The MT Empress Tanker was acquired in 2022 by RDC Reield Marine Services Inc.
When grilled by Senator Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero, Fritz Tee, vice president of RDC, testified that MT Princess Empress had sailed nine times from Bataan to Manila without a CPC.
The tanker sank off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on its way from Bataan to Iloilo last February 28.
Tee said they applied for an amended CPC last November 2022.
“So nine times from whatever area it left port, the Coast Guard was supposed to inspect it and the Coast Guard saw that there was no amended CPC yet covering this vessel. That means this is already them ninth oversight on the part of Coast Guard,” Escudero said.
CPC is a license to operate or an authorization issued for the operation of public services for which no franchise, either municipal or legislative, is required by law such as a common carrier.
Escudero also learned that the ship was not issued an amended CPC because the owner did not apply.
Villar and Senator Rafael Tulfo said that the owner of RDC might not be able to financially help in the clean up and payment of damages caused by the sinking of its tanker because its supposed US$1-billion insurance might not be forthcoming because it had no CPC.
Tulfo said there could not have be a committee hearing like today had the PCG stopped the MT Princess Empress from leaving port because it had no CPC.
“It is as simple as that. You have shortcoming,’’ Tulfo old PCG officers on their mandate that ships should not be allowed to leave without PCG clearance.
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