PCG: 'Clear misrepresentation' on documents of sunken oil tanker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — There was "clear misrepresentation" on the documents of sunken MT Princess Empress which allowed the oil tanker to operate, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Wednesday.

"Ang lumalabas dahil may denial ang Marina, ay lumalabas na fake talaga siya. Ngayon ang sa amin sa coast guard, we relied on that document so many times na binibigay sa amin nung second mate na umaaktong master nung vessel. Clearly, may misrepresentation dito at meron dapat managot," PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: It appears that because Marina (Maritime Industry Authority) has denied it, it seems the document is indeed fake. We at the coast guard relied on that document shown to us so many times by the second mate, who was acting as the vessel's master. Clearly, there was misrepresentation here and someone should be held accountable.]

On Monday, a Marina official said those found to have taken part in falsifying the documents of the oil tanker will face fines and sanctions, among others.

Senators in an inquiry cited a report from Marina which stated that the vessel "has no authority to operate in the form of an amendment to its certificate of public convenience."

The PCG denied it allowed the tanker that caused the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro to operate without a permit, as it presented a document to rebut the claim during the same hearing.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Balitaan, Balilo said the ship owner, as well as its master, should be made to explain what transpired.

Next step in clean-up efforts

Meanwhile, the PCG said plugging the hole in the sunken tanker to stop the oil leak is the next step in the clean-up.

"Dahil meron nang survey at nakakita na ng image kung saan pwede nang pag-aralan ng mabuti nung pag-plug, at eventually yung pagkuha o pag-siphon ng langis," said Balilo.

[Translation: Because a survey has already been made and images have shown where and how the plugging can be done, eventually the siphoning of the oil will happen as well.]

He added that the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was used to take images of the vessel was not capable of siphoning off the remaining oil.

"Yung pag-siphon kasi hindi kasama sa unang plano at kapabilidad nung nilubog na ROV at kailangan magkaroon pa ng isa pang equipment para sa pagkuha nung langis," he explained.

[Translation: Siphoning was not part of the original plan and the ROV is not capable of doing that. We will have to use other equipment to retrieve the oil.]

Balilo said clean-up efforts will remain a priority, as the investigation into the tanker sinking proceeds.