Ship that caused Mindoro oil spill has no permit to operate – Marina

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) – MT Princess Empress, the sunken tanker that caused the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, has no permit to operate, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) said on Tuesday.

During the Senate hearing on the oil spill, Marina said shipowner RDC Reield Marine Services’ application to amend its Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) is still pending.

Marina bared this after Senator Raffy Tulfo asked if RDC already filed its $1-billion liability insurance that could be used to compensate the people affected by the oil spill.

“We will have a problem on that (insurance),” Senator Cynthia Villar said.

“They cannot claim from the insurance because they have no permit to operate,” she added.

RDC said it bought MT Princess Empress last year and applied for an amendment to its CPC in November to include the new tanker in the list of vessels it is allowed to operate.

However, Marina administrator Hernani Fabia told lawmakers that the amended CPC has not yet been issued since there were still lacking documents.

This prompted lawmakers to question the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for allowing the tanker to sail allegedly without the required permit.

“Di ba dapat sumasampa 'yung mga miyembro ng PCG, hinahanapan ng papeles, crew, laman, kung overloaded? So kung ginawa niyo ‘yun tulad ng sinabi ni Madam chair (Villar) na wala palang permit to operate yung bagong barkong 'yun, napigilan sana maglayag, wala sanang nangyaring oil spill,” Tulfo said.

[Translation: Shouldn’t PCG personnel check documents, the crew, the contents of the vessel, if it’s overloaded? If you did that and discovered that MT Princess Empress had no permit to operate, then you could’ve stopped them from sailing and there would’ve been no oil spill.]

PCG Deputy Commandant for Operations Rolando Lizor Punzalan, Jr. said they are investigating the personnel involved.

Later in the day, however, the agency maintained that MT Princess Empress obtained a CPC from Marina in November 2022.

RDC also issued a statement insisting that its tanker’s CPC is “valid.”

“We filed the application for the amendment as early as November 16, 2022. We completed our documentary requirements by December 2, 2022,” the company said.

Nine municipalities in Oriental Mindoro have declared a state of calamity due to the oil spill. These are the towns of Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Gloria, Mansalay, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola, and Roxas.

The Office of the Civil Defense reported a total of 108,162 individuals, or 23,005 families, in 118 barangays in Oriental Mindoro and Palawan have been affected by the oil spill.

CNN Correspondent Eimor Santos and Digital Producer Raheema Velasco contributed to this report.