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DoJ to look into agencies’ liability for oil spill

August 30, 2006

By Tetch Torres, Thea Alberto

THE Department of Justice (DoJ) will investigate whether lapses by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Philippine Coast Guard could have helped lead to the August 11 sinking of the M/T Solar I off Guimaras, which triggered one of the country’s worst oil spills.

“We will go beyond the ship owner and captain. We will see if Marina and (the) Coast Guard have not been alert enough to determine the seaworthiness of M/T Solar I,” Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said they would see whether officials of the two agencies might be liable for gross inexcusable negligence under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft Law.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is waiting for complaints from Guimaras resort owners whose properties were damaged by the oil spill.

PNP Director General Oscar Calderon said CIDG Director Jesus Verzosa is already in Western Visayas “to see the complaints of the owners who were affected by the spill. I believe there are some resorts whose owners would like to present also.”

However, Calderon clarified that the PNP was not yet conducting any investigation.

“We are just taking the complaint, and then we will look for the proper court or agency to take action on these cases; we will just document the cases and refer these to other agencies,” he said.

He added that the PNP will only act as a support group in the investigation aspect since consultations with the multi-agency Task Force Guimaras and Department of Environment and Natural Resources have yet to be done, he added.

Calderon also said he has ordered Western Visayas police director, “Chief Superintendent Geary Barrias, to maximize our policemen in helping in cleaning the area…we have policemen helping the cleanup in Guimaras.”

(From INQ7.net, Aug. 30, 2006)

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