The Supreme Court (SC) handed down an entry of judgment in connection with the criminal cases against an official of Sulpicio Lines Inc. (SLI) over the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars nearly 10 years ago.
The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) released this week the court order written by Deputy Clerk of Court Basilio T. Ringol on June 17, 2019, saying the SC decision on Dec. 10, 2018 on the case has become final and executory.
The SC decision, in turn, ruled in favor of consolidated petitions questioning the March 22, 2013 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissing reckless imprudence raps against then SLI first vice president for administration Edgar Go over the tragedy.
Associate Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Marvic Leonen, Alexander Gesmundo, and Ramon Paul Hernando concurred with the decision written by Associate Justice Jose Reyes.
Go led the crisis management team of the company which handled the incident when the ship under Captain Florencio Marimon capsized and sank in the waters off Romblon at the height of typhoon Frank.
A total of 227 people died, 592 went missing while 32 survived in the tragedy.
“(T)he consolidated petitions for review are granted. The decision of the Court of Appeals are reversed and set aside. The Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 5 is ordered to forthwith reinstate the criminal case as against respondent Go,” the SC ruled.
The tribunal explained that while the shipping firm’s officials faced civil liabilities for failing to safely deliver its passengers, they also face criminal liabilities for possible negligence which resulted in deaths and injuries.
“The civil action against a ship owner for breach of contract of carriage does not preclude criminal prosecution against its employees whose negligence resulted in the death of or injuries to passengers,” the High Court explained.
In its investigation report dated August 18, 2008, the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) stated that Sulpicio Lines Inc. and its senior officers failed to ensure the safety of the vessel and its cargo because it did not assess the potential danger of the typhoon.
It added that SLI failed to monitor the condition of the vessel during the critical moment on the morning of June 21, 2009, before the vessel sank in San Fernando, Romblon that was in the direct path of the typhoon.
The BMI also observed that the shipping firm did not inform the Philippine Coast Guard immediately when the vessel lost contact with the company. (PNA)