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NBI readies criminal case vs Solar 1 owner, captain

October 24, 2006

By Tetch Torres
INQ7.net, Oct. 24, 2006

THE NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has started searching for victims of the oil spill in Guimaras Island in preparation for a criminal case to be filed against the owner and captain of the ship that had caused the environmental disaster, an official of the Department of Justice said.

“We need to find out exactly how many and who are the people affected by the spill. Affected meaning they got sick, they have relatives who died because of the polluted water and the likes,” said Ernesto Pineda, justice undersecretary, of the task to be undertaken by a team of NBI agents, led by Edgar Villarta.

MT Solar 1 sank off Guimaras Island on August 11, causing one of the worst oil spills in the country. Norberto Aguro was the captain of the ship owned by the Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation (SMDC).

Aside from the families in Guimaras, Pineda said the NBI would also talk to the relatives of the two missing Solar 1 crew.

A study conducted by Siliman University said the damage to potential fish products, which would have come from the mangroves, wood, and sea grass in the area, was estimated at P32.8 million.

Reports also say that several residents have gotten sick and some have even died because of the heavily polluted water.

“We need all these people to further strengthen our case. Of course, it’s not only the government but we also need private complainants before we file the case,” Pineda said.

Meanwhile, Pineda said Petron Corp. whose bunker fuel was being carried by Solar 1 at the time of the accident could face a separate civil case for overloading.

“We are still waiting for more evidence from the Marine authorities,” Pineda said.

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