Petron’s liability

August 29, 2006


I WAS having a bad day. My older girl is sick. The new househelp almost burned the kitchen. And I couldn’t find anything that pins some legal liability on Petron for the Guimaras oil spill.

I need to write this the way things happened.

For days, I have been trying to find the Coast Guard circulars which, according to Petron, are the bases for its exemption from liability for the Guimaras oil spill. I’ve been to the Philippine Coast Guard Web site and this was the only thing there was:


You don’t have permission to access to this document on this server.

Apache Server at coastguard.gov.phù

Nice, eh?

Earlier today, I received an e-mail asking me to sign a petition against Petron. The petition states that Petron is legally and morally liable. I had to ask the sender what the basis for the legal liability is. She referred me to Caltex’s liability in the Doña Paz case. In that case, a tanker carrying Caltex petroleum rammed into the overloaded ferry Doña Paz (owned by Sulpicio Lines) killing thousands of people, the worst maritime disaster in Philippine history. The Caltex petroleum carried by the tanker spilled into the water, burst into flames and killed thousands who may have otherwise survived.

The case is not squarely applicable.

(Read the rest of the column at Manila Standard Today, Aug. 29, 2006.)



  1. Petron is definately legally liable for the decrepit tanker they used to transport the oil and their lack of emergency clean-up equipment which could have prevented the damage from reaching the shores. For a similar case, I would refer to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill). In the Exxon Valdez case, the spill was ultimately caused by a drunk captain and their lack of emergency equipment caused the damage to reach the extreme extent that it did. They were found liable for $5 billion in punitive damages. This Petron oil spill is much worse in terms of liability because this was in no way an accident but gross negligence in their part.

  2. Connie you are a known GMA supporter. I don’t think you will find fault in any government agency. In the end you and the government will blame the ship captain leaving Nick Alcantara and the rest of the political appointees blameless.

  3. Yup b747. What you say is true. The poor incompetent ship captain will be left holding the bag, despite the fact that Petron and the other oil firms which hired Sunshine Maritime, knew he didn’t have the proper papers to pilot an oil tanker.

    And why do you think that Sunshine Maritime has been getting all these juicy contracts from the oil firms despite having decrepit ships and tankers?

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