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Petron also held liable for oil spill

September 14, 2006

By Joyce Pangco Pañares and Joel Zurbano

PETRON Corp. is liable for contracting the Solar I tanker that triggered an ecological disaster after it sank off Guimaras Island on Aug. 11 and poured its cargo of bunker fuel into the surrounding waters, a Special Board of Marine Inquiry said.

Releasing the findings of the board yesterday, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Petron must answer for chartering the tanker even though it knew that it was overloaded—a factor behind its sinking.

Mendoza also ordered the suspension of Sunshine Maritime Development Inc., the tanker’s owner, after the board found the company administratively liable for “disregarding all regulations, policies, and requirements for sea worthiness of the vessel.”

Aside from possible violations of the Clean Water Act, Domestic Shipping Act and the Revised Penal Code, the ship owners are also being investigated for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law.

The ship’s captain, Norberto Aguro, was also suspended for “incompetence and for lack of adequate training, lack of knowledge and error of judgment” when he set sail despite bad weather.

Mendoza ordered the Maritime Industry Authority to file administrative charges against Aguro, Petron and Sunshine Maritime.

“The civil and criminal liability will be addressed by the Department of Justice,” Mendoza said.

He brushed aside Petron’s claim that it could not be faulted for chartering the tanker because it had passed international vessel standards.

“They can claim that, but proving it would be another matter,” Mendoza said, noting that the board of inquiry had used first-hand and expert testimony to come up with its findings and recommendations.

Earlier, Petron’s operations planning manager, Peter Paul Shotwell, insisted his company was not liable for the contract.

(For the full story, click Mla Standard Today, Sept. 15, 2006.)

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