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Resolve June 21, 2008 ‘Princess of the Stars’ case too, SC told

Resolve ‘Princess’ case too, SC told
Rio N. Araja June 21, 2018

Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta on Thursday called on the Supreme Court to resolve the criminal case filed by the kin of over 300 passengers who died in the 2008 sinking of the ship Princess of the Stars off Romblon.

“Now that the quo warranto [proceedings against ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno] is done, it is high time that the high court resolves the case of the victims of m/v Princess of the Stars,” Acosta told more than 100 relatives of the victims and the survivors as well who were present at a press conference.

The ship capsized on June 21, 2008 into the waters off Sibuyan Island in Romblon during the onslaught of Typhoon “Frank” (Fengshen). Out of the 851 passengers and crew members, only 32 survived.

In 2015, the Manila City Regional Trial Court Branch 49 ordered Sulpicio Lines Inc. (SLI, now named Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp.), which owns Princess of the Stars, to indemnify the victims P241 million in damages.

The victims' relatives earlier asked the Supreme Court to reverse a Court of Appeals ruling ordering the inhibition of Branch 49 Judge Daniel Villanueva from the case.

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeals denied the appeal of Sulpicio Lines to reinstate its license to ferry passengers.

The CA’s Eleventh Division said SLI should have exhausted all administrative remedies before running to the appellate court.

Sulpicio appealed to the CA after the Maritime Industry Authority cancelled its certificate of public convenience or CPC for the carriage of persons in 2015.

In its decision on the administrative case filed by the victims' relatives, Marina ruled that Sulpicio vessels can only carry cargo. It had junked Sulpicio’s motion for reconsideration in 2016.
Under the rules, the CA said Sulpicio should have first filed an appeal before the Office of the President, not the appellate court.

“SLI’s failure to appeal to the Office of the President before filing the instant petition before this Court is a premature invocation of the Court’s intervention, thus denies SLI a cause of action for judicial relief. Direct recourse to this Court, when administrative remedies are still available for Sulpicio, is a ground for the dismissal of the petition,” the CA ruled.