• Sulpicio asked to explain damage claim

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    SC orders owners of sunken MV Princess of the Stars to explain on PAO petition to compel CA to honor P241-M damage award to victims

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    The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the owners of the sunken MV Princess of the Stars to explain on the petition of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) seeking to compel the CA to honor P241-M damage award to its victims

    It will be recalled that said ship sailed for Cebu from the Port of Manila on June 20, 2008 ferrying 849 individuals, 709 of whom were passengers, 29 contractors and 111 crew members. It capsized in the Sibuyan Sea at 21:30 p.m. the next day. Only 32 people survived; 227 died, and 592 were reported missing.

    A Resolution of the SC 2nd Division, signed and promulgated by Division Clerk of Court Atty. Ma. Lourdes C. Perfecto ordered Sulpicio Lines to lodge its comment within 10 days from notice.

    “After deliberating on the petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision dated 21 September 2015 and Resolution dated 18 December 2015 of the Court of Appeals, Manila in CA GR SP No. 138330 , the Court, without necessarily giving due course thereto, further resolves to Require respondent to file Comment thereon , not a motion to dismiss, within 10 days from notice,” the ruling avers.

    In addition, the SC has also granted the motion for leave to intervene of movants Buenaventura Rabe Jr., Gloria Nadela and others after “stating that they seek to join in this case and are one with the petitioners in challenging the assailed CA Decision dated 21 September 2015 and Resolution dated 18 December 2015 and adopting all the allegations, arguments and discussion in the petition for review on certiorari, with prayer that they be allowed to intervene in this case.”

    PAO Chief Atty. Persida Acosta has asked the high court to junk the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) which will effectively halt the P241-million damage suit awarded to Sulpicio MV Princess of the Stars victims.

    In her petition before the high court, Acosta pleaded before the SC not to ignore the ruling already made by Manila RTC Judge Daniel Villanueva, which awarded the said damage suit against the owners of Sulpicio Lines.

    The decision of Judge Villanueva was promulgated on September 18, 2015, which is three days ahead of the CA decision, September 21, 2015, ordering Villanueva to inhibit from the case.

    PAO also argued that there was no TRO issued by the CA compelling the judge not to rule on the case.

    On December 18, 2015, the CA Special 16th Division even ordered the case to be re-raffled
    to another judge and for Villanueva not to handle the case anymore.

    In the RTC ruling, it opined that Celerna Calayag and the other victims were able to prove by preponderance of evidence the negligence of Sulpicio Lines/PSACC owned by the Go family, particularly Enrique S. Go, Eusebio S. Go, Carlos S. Go, Victoriano S. Go, Dominador S. Go, Ricardo S. Go, Edward S. Go, and Edgar S. Go.

    The court ordered Sulpicio and the Go family to pay a total of P241,761,256.34. This includes the P230,248,815.56 damages plus P11,512,440.78 worth of attorneys fees
    The vicims were able to establish that there was a contract of carriage between the passengers and the said shipping line, as proven by the Passenger’s Manifest and by the Releases and Quitclaims which serve as express admission on the part of Sulpicio/PSACC that the recipients of the amounts covered therein are victims and survivors of the said tragedy.

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