Guimaras attorney seeks reversal of ruling junking case vs. Petron

March 30, 2007

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
The News Today
March 29, 2007

THE municipality of Nueva Valencia in Guimaras on Tuesday appealed the dismissal of the complaint against officials of Petron Corp. and owners of the MT Solar I in connection with last year’s massive oil spill in Guimaras.

In a nine-page motion for reconsideration, Guimaras provincial legal officer Plaridel Nava II asked the provincial prosecutor’s office to reverse its March 2 resolution dismissing the complaint filed by Nueva Valencia Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga.

Gonzaga had filed the complaint against Petron president Khalid Al-Faddagh and chair and chief executive officer Nicasio Alcantara, vice president for operations Felimon Antiporta, health safety and environment officer Carlos Tan and Clemente Cancio, president of the Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., owners of Solar I.

In his motion, Nava said the resolution issued by Provincial Prosecutor Luzermindo Calmorin “is not in accord with law and evidence on hand.”

He said the prosecutor also “erred in giving much premium on legal technicalities rather than the spirit and intent of the law.”

Calmorin dismissed the complaint against the respondents for violating Republic Act 9275 (Clean Water Act of 2004), Republic Act 8749 (Clean Air Act of 1999) and Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) for lack of evidence.

In dismissing the complaint, the prosecutor had said in his resolution that the sinking of the tanker and the oil spill were unintentional acts. He also said there was no evidence to show that the respondents were responsible for illegally dumping and discharging waste material.

But Nava said that the issue whether the sinking and oil spill was deliberate or not has “never been the subject of the complaint.”

He pointed out that the complaint was “anchored on the massive use of dispersants in shallow water habitats such as mangroves, sea grass beds and coral communities that should have been avoided given that the bunker fuel is not acquiescent to treatment with dispersants considering its toxic effects and its contribution to spreading the impacts over a wider area.”

Nava reiterated that Petron should be held criminally liable for the spraying of dispersants by Petron-hired personnel at the shoreline of Barangay Guiwanon in September without authorization.

He said the prosecutor also “erred” in the interpretation and application of Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 979 (Marine Pollution Law).

“While the law is intended and directed against intentional and deliberate acts, the complaint does not pertain to the sinking of MT Solar I or the spillage of oil but is founded upon the unlawful discharge of liquid substance into the water bodies or along the margins of any surface water,” said Nava in his motion.

He also pointed out that “the sinking of MT Solar I could have been avoided had Petron Corp. been more prudent in selecting the vessel that would carry its bunker fuel oil.”

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