Marina: Tanker in Oriental Mindoro oil spill had no permit

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Marina: Tanker in Oriental Mindoro oil spill had no permit
This photo release from the Philippine Coast Guard on March 8 shows an oil spill boom being placed in the waters of Oriental Mindoro.
Philippine Coast Guard release

Update: The Philippine Coast Guard on Tuesday night posted supposed copies of the Certificate of Public Convenience on its social media accounts.

Find out more here: Coast Guard belatedly asserts tanker in Oriental Mindoro oil spill had permit


MANILA, Philippines — The sunken tanker that leaked oil that threatens to damage the environment and harm people should have never been allowed to sail in the first place as it did not have a permit to operate, the Maritime Industry Authority said in a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Marina administrator Hernani Fabia confirmed a report from the agency that Sens. Cynthia Villar and Risa Hontiveros read during the hearing, which stated that MT Princess Empress “has no permit to operate in the form of an amendment to its certificate of public convenience (CPC).”

Fabia explained that RDC Reield Marine Services, which owns MT Princess Empress, was still lacking documents in its application to amend its CPC to include the tanker that has leaked oil which affected over 108,000 people in 118 barangays in Oriental Mindoro and Palawan, according to the Office of Civil Defense.

“RDC has a pending application which we wanted to conduct a hearing on, but they were missing documents. They were not issued a permit immediately,” Fabia said partly in Filipino.

“So sir, if there was no amended CPC for Princess Empress, this should not have been allowed to sail?” Hontiveros asked Fabia partly in Filipino, to which Fabia replied in the affirmative.

Cannot sail, but sailed nine times

The Senate inquiry also uncovered that MT Princess Empress was able to sail nine times — all while without permit — before it sank in the waters off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro on February 28, as admitted by RDC vice president Fritzie Tee.

Tee, however, insisted that her company has a CPC and that they applied as early as November and completed the submission of all required documents for its amendment to include the tanker that, she said, was commissioned in 2022. 

It was also revealed that the PCG is investigating why its personnel did not board the tanker for inspection and why it did not check if it had complete documents.

“If your people were not careless, they wouldn’t have allowed that vessel to sail because it lacked documents. We wouldn’t be talking to each other here. Period,” a furious Sen. Raffy Tulfo said in Filipino. “So those who checked that must be charged and sued for negligence.”

Villar and Tulfo earlier raised concerns that the provinces affected by the oil spill would not be able to depend on the insurance of RDC as MT Princess Empress does not have a permit to operate.

They may still compensation if the PCG to sue RDC so the oil pollution management fund can be used, Fabia said.

According to the OCD, the oil spill has affected 68 areas, while 122 people were either injured or have fallen ill because of the incident. It added that 13,588 fishermen were also affected.

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