DOJ probes PCG, MARINA for allowing oil tanker to sail sans permit

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 18) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it is investigating the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for allowing the sunken oil tanker MT Princess Empress to sail without a permit to operate.

“The DOJ is looking into possible collusion with concerned government agencies for allowing the ship to sail without the required permit,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said in an interview on Friday.

MARINA previously confirmed in a Senate hearing that MT Princess Empress still has a pending application to amend its Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC).

But its owner, RDC Reield Marine Services, maintained that MT Princess Empress obtained a CPC from Marina in November 2022.

It also refused to comment on the possibility of collusion between the PCG and the MARINA.

READ: Ship that caused Mindoro oil spill has no permit to operate – MARINA

Meanwhile, Clavano also confirmed that DOJ has created an inter-agency committee to monitor the oil spill investigation.

Aside from PCG and MARINA, Clavano said the committee will involve the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

"We will wait for reports for these involved agencies doon sa kanilang scope para magkaroon tayo ng mas malinaw na picture dito sa ating issue ng oil spill," he said.

[Translation: We will wait for reports for these involved agencies on their scope so that we can have a clearer picture on our oil spill issue.]


Clavano also confirmed that owners of the oil tanker will possibly face nine sanctions, six of which are criminal liabilities and three are civil liabilities.

“Klarong klaro na may negligence dito," he declared. "Dahil without even looking at the necessary documents nakita natin na itong MT Empress Princess was made of mere scrap. Parang basura na ginawang oil tanker.”

[Translation: It is very clear that there is negligence here. Because without even looking at the necessary documents we saw that this MT Empress Princess was made of mere scrap. It's like garbage turned into an oil tanker.]

Some of the laws the oil tanker may have violated include:

- Oil Pollution Compensation Act

- Clean Water Act

- Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act

- Marine Pollution Decree

- Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act

- Philippine Fisheries Code

- Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act

Clavano said it is also subjected to a Writ of Kalikasan – a legal remedy issued if the constitutional right to a healthy ecology is violated or threatened.

He added that the DOJ will also look at the angle of insurance fraud allegedly perpetrated by the shipping company.

“We are looking at the possibility of misrepresentation by the owners of the MT Princess Empress, RDC Rield Marine Services, regarding their alleged $1 billion liability insurance for the ship as pointed out during a senate hearing earlier this week,” he said.

READ: DOJ: Case buildup underway vs. owner of sunken tanker

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Anjo Alimario and Digital Producer Raheema Velasco contributed to this report.