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NBI files complaint vs ship owner, others over Mindoro oil spill

NBI files complaint vs ship owner, others over Mindoro oil spill

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Environmental Crime Division on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against 35 individuals over the Oriental Mindoro oil spill.

The respondents are facing a complaint for falsification of public documents, use of falsified documents, and perjury over an allegedly falsified certificate of public convenience (CPC).

Included among the respondents were RDC Reield Marine Services, the company that owns the MT Princess Empress that caused the oil spill, the ship crew, and personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

“RDC Reield directors are presumed to be authors of the falsified document as they were in possession of the same and made use of the document. They also benefited from the use of the falsified document,” Justice Department spokesman Mico Clavano said in a media briefing.

“The PCG is liable as they conduct pre-departure inspections for domestic oil tankers prior to voyage. And first and foremost on their checklist is to check the validity of the CPC,” he added.

Meanwhile, Clavano said other documents falsified were a construction certificate, tonnage measurement certificate, certificate of ownership, and certificate of Philippine registry.

“The officials from Marina and RDC… conspired for the purpose of illegally registering the MT Princess Empress with false documents,” Clavano said.

For his part, Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez said the construction certificate, the tonnage measurement certificate, and the certificate of Philippine Registry indicated that the MT Princess Empress was allegedly constructed in Bataan.

“But in actuality, it was constructed in Navotas. And based on Marina policies, the office or the Marina Regional Office that should certify this ship should have been the place where the construction was made or the head office of the ship owner or any branch thereof,” Vasquez said.

“Based on the investigation, the ones who signed off on the registration are regional officers of Region V. These two persons, the regional director there and the… head of shipyard, they’re already transferred here because of the ongoing administrative investigation against them that was initiated by Marina,” he added.

Clavano, meanwhile, said the DOJ is still looking into whether they would file environmental crimes and graft and corruption charges in the following weeks.

GMA News Online has sought comment from the respondents, but they have yet to respond as of posting time.

For its part, the RDC maintained that the MT Princess Empress was a newly built vessel.

“MT Princess Empress is a newly built vessel that fully complies with all the requirements and procedures set by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the vessel's classification society (ORS)," the RDC said.

"We will let the facts and our evidence speak for themselves in due time," it added.

Meanwhile, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said they will wait for the official document before issuing a statement.

"We respect the decision of DOJ but we will wait for the official document so we can have a basis to issue our statement," he told GMA News Online.

The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Naujan while carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel. — DVM, GMA Integrated News