From AFP, Sept. 2, 2008
Criminal charges have been filed against officers of a Philippine shipping company after one of its ferries capsized, killing almost 800 people.
The Public Attorney’s Office, on behalf of the families of 13 of the deceased, filed charges of negligence and reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against officials of Sulpicio Lines for the capsizing of their ferry in June.
The 23,000-tonne Princess of the Stars, carrying 850 passengers and crew, capsized after hitting a reef off the central island of Sibuyan on June 21 at the height of Typhoon Fengshen. Only 57 passengers and crew survived.
The sinking was the country’s worst maritime disaster for 20 years.
The charges, filed with the Justice Department, named the missing captain of the ship, Florencio Marimon, and the president, chief executive officer and other senior officials of Sulpicio Lines as respondents.
In the complaint, the office said the respondents should be held criminally liable for allowing the ship to set sail despite a warning by the Government weather station that a storm alert had been raised over the area it was heading.
It also cited the absence of any other ferries in the area of the storm as evidence of the company’s “absence of care and foresight.”
Last month, the Board of Marine Inquiry, which investigated the incident, blamed the captain and called for the company to be stripped of its franchise.
Marimon is missing and presumed dead.