Princess of the Stars owner absolved

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A court in Manila has absolved the owner of the ferry Princess of the Stars that sank off Romblon in 2008, leaving more than 800 people dead.

In a 13-page decision signed last Nov. 18, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 54 Judge Maria Paz Reyes-Yson dismissed the numerous charges slapped against Sulpicio Lines owner Edgar Go as it granted the demurrer of evidence – the petition that seeks to junk the cases due to lack of evidence.

While the prosecution – represented by the Department of Justice – showed witnesses that recalled the ship’s sinking in the middle of a storm, the court declared that none of these testimonies “proved the culpability of Go.”

“Any reference to him is merely an allegation that he is the owner of Sulpicio Lines and that he was present in the office when the witnesses received the insurance benefits,” the decision read in part.

The witnesses “neither saw or heard him give any instruction that led to the sinking of the vessel,” it also read.

Go, along with Princess of the Stars ship captain Florencio Marimon Sr. and other unnamed defendants, were charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to property in 2009 or a year after the sea tragedy.

The 23,000-ton ship, which left Manila for Cebu in June 2008, sailed despite the onslaught of Typhoon Frank and eventually capsized near Sibuyan Island in Romblon.

Out of the over 800 passengers and crew, only 54 people were reported to have survived. The rest were either declared dead or missing.

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