Firm sues Hong Kong ship’s crew over sea mishap

Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Malabon-based firm whose fishing boat capsized after colliding with a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship last week has filed a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence against the Chinese officers and crew.

Arnold Naval, lawyer for Irma Fishing and Trading Inc., said the complaint was filed against the officers and crew of M/V Vienna Wood before the Occidental Mindoro prosecutor’s office last Wednesday.

“We have sufficient basis to file a complaint against the ship for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple damage to property and probable loss of lives,” Naval said.

The cargo ship failed to steer clear of the F/B Liberty 5 to prevent the collision off Cape Calavite, Occidental Mindoro on the night of June 27, the lawyer said.

The distress call by email was made by the Hong Kong cargo ship’s crew before dawn on June 28, resulting in an hours-long delay for rescue, said the missing fishing crew’s kin.

“There was recklessness in the handling of navigation which resulted in a collision. We’re just presuming at this point. Because the ship capsized, it is probable that there was reckless imprudence on their part,” Naval said.

The company pegged the damage over the capsized ship and for compensation to the affected families at P60 to P70 million.

The company is also awaiting the report of the Philippine Coast Guard on the veracity of reports that it took over three hours after the collision for the Hong Kong ship’s crew to send a distress call.

“That is unacceptable because it is their responsibility (to ask for help),” Naval said.

The relatives of the missing ship crew have appealed to authorities not to give up in its rescue operations, even if it will shift to retrieval of bodies.

“With retrieval operations due to slim chances of finding survivors, our family will not stop seeking for justice and to hold the cargo ship crew accountable,” Khristine Magura, cousin of engineer Reynil Magura, told The STAR yesterday.

“I am also thinking if there could be survivors, and if there were, how could that be? It’s been days of hunger and the cold sea out there for them. We only pray that the capsized boat could be recovered, so that maybe their bodies could be retrieved there,” added Judith Azucena, partner of ship oiler Joeffrey Bantug.

The relatives also appealed to the government to set aside its close ties with China in holding the Hong Kong ship crew accountable.

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