Cebu town files P210-M suit against two shipping firms

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CEBU CITY: Mayor Adelino Sitoy of Cordova, Cebu and fisherfolk organizations in the town filed a civil suit asking the two companies whose ships collided a year ago and caused an oil spill to pay US$3 million or roughly P129 million for the cleanup and restoration of the town’s damaged marine environment.

They also asked the Mandaue City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 28, an environmental court, to order the 2G0 Group Inc. and the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC) to pay P81 million in damages to the Municipal Government of Cordova and to the more than 3,000 members of the Pundok sa Mananagat sa Cordova.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Philippine Coast Guard were also included as respondents in the complaint.

“We included these government agencies so they will take action,” Sitoy said.


Passenger ship MV St. Thomas Aquinas owned by 2Go Group and PSACC cargo vessel MV Sulpicio Express Siete collided in the waters off Talisay City on August 16 last year.

The St. Thomas Aquinas sank, killing at least 116 passengers and crew, with 21 still listed as missing.

About 100,000 liters of oil from the sunken ship leaked, damaging 328 hectares of mangroves and forcing residents in 13 coastal barangays to stop fishing and gleaning activities for two months.

Pedro Eredera, 34, president of the Pundok sa Mananagat sa Cordova, said he and other fishermen have yet to fully recover although they have gone back to fishing.

The petition asked RTC Branch 28 Judge Mercedita Dadole-Ygnacio to issue a temporary environmental protection order or a writ of continuing mandamus for the creation of a special fund that will be used for cleanup and restoration activities.

The fund will be sourced by Marina from the mandatory protection and indemnity insurance of the two shipping companies in the amount of USD3 million, or roughly P129 million.

Lawyer Benjamin Cabrido, whose firm represents the fisherfolk, said Marina issued a circular in 2009 requiring shipping firms to secure protection and indemnity insurance of USD1.5 million each.

Although the circular has been suspended, the Marina Board has not revoked it, said Cabrido.

PNA

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