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DOJ takes a crack at oil spill case

September 3, 2006

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) takes its turn on Monday in investigating the Aug. 11 sinking of the tanker MT Solar I that triggered a huge oil spill in Western Visayas.

A DOJ task force, chaired by Justice Undersecretary Ernesto Pineda, expects to question in its first hearing officials of Petron Corp., Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Expected to be at the hearing are Petron chairman Nicasio Alcantara, Sunshine Maritime president Clemente Cancio, Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Arthur Gosingan, and tanker captain Norberto Aguro.

The DOJ panel is tasked to determine the criminal liabilities of those involved in the incident, which continues to threaten other areas in the Western Visayas region.

Meanwhile, the Board of Marine Inquiry has summoned more crew members of the ill-fated tanker at its own hearing — Herminio Renger, pumpman Jesse Angel, and oilers Reynaldo Torio and Victor Morados.

Petron Corp. contracted Solar I owned by Sunshine Maritime to transport 2.1 million liters of bunker oil from Bataan to Zamboanga. The ship sank, reportedly due to bad weather, in Guimaras Strait last Aug. 11.

The BMI has recommended the revocation of Aguro’s license and penalties against Petron and Sunshine Maritime, but it does not have prosecutorial powers.

(Click Crack, Sept. 3, 2006, for the full story.)

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