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4 of 9 owners of sunken ship already out of the country

August 31, 2006

By Tetch Torres

FOUR of the nine owners of an oil tanker that sank into the Guimaras Strait have left the country long before the Bureau of Immigration placed them on its watchlist, an Immigration official said Thursday.

Japanese nationals Tomoki Tsubomoto, Hiromi Irishika and Mototsugu Yamaguchi departed the Philippines in May 2001, while Gregorio Flores left only last May, said Gary Mendoza, chief of the Immigration Regulations Divisions.

The nine, owners of Sunshine Maritime Development Corp. which operated the sunken M/T Solar 1, were barred Wednesday from leaving the country.

But another Japanese incorporator, Hiroyasu Yamaguchi, arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday last week, Mendoza said.

In his hold-departure order, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the company officials were being investigated for possible violations of environmental laws relating to the oil spill.

(Click INQ7.net for the full story, Aug. 31, 2006.)

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