As predicted, Petron gets off with slap on the wrist

September 6, 2006

DOJ probers clear Petron of criminal liability in oil spill

AN investigating panel by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday cleared Petron Corp., the country’s largest oil firm, of criminal liability in the sinking of the MT Solar I.

Justice Undersecretary Ernesto Pineda, chair of the fact-finding team, said Petron Corp. may still have civil liability because it commissioned the ill-fated tanker.

“We are still studying the civil liability of Petron but criminally, we don’t have a case against it because it had no direct knowledge of the circumstances that led to the sinking … [We found no] criminal liability on the part of Petron, only civil liability,” Pineda said on dzRH radio.

Petron Corp. chartered the MT Solar I from Sunshine Maritime Development Corp. to transport some 2.2 million liters of bunker fuel from its refinery in Limay, Bataan to Zamboanga City.

The vessel sank on August 11, spilling thousands of liters of oil into the Guimaras Strait in central Philippines.

Criminal and civil charges were recommended yesterday by the justice department against Norberto Aguro, captain of MT Solar I that sank off Guimaras island on Aug. 11, who was found to have an expired license, overloaded his vessel and violated practically every rule in the mariner’s book.

The filing of similar charges were recommended also against Clemente Cancio, president of Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., which owned the tanker.

Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday questioned the reported hiring by the Coast Guard of a Norwegian consultant for the Guimaras oil spill cleanup.

Petron Corp. chartered the tanker MT Solar 1 which sank off Guimaras Island on Aug. 11, causing the oil spill.

(For the full stories, click Petron cleared and Malaya, Sept. 6, 2006.)


DIDN’T I say so? No surprise here despite the obvious negligence of Petron in chartering a vessel that wasn’t double-hulled to begin with, hiring a firm that has ancient tankers–oh I mean tanker, there was only one actually in use, of the three owned by Sunshine Maritime–and the oh, so slow response by the oil firm to the accident.

The play of the probe was evident from the start. (A farce if you ask me.) Petron was given a lot of leeway to push its excuses to the fore…despite Sunshine Maritime’s insistence that the oil firm knew about its skipper’s record and papers.

Trust a government agency like DOJ to investigate a case involving a company with strong ties to the Chief Executive herself. Hmmm…that Saudi Aramco fund donation to her campaign kitty sure bought Petron a lot of insurance.

Well you know what to do people…stop loading up at Petron gas stations! Don’t give them any satisfaction from this outcome. You have the power!

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