The Department of Justice recently urged a Manila court to reverse their decision to clear an executive of Sulpicio lines of criminal liabilities in relation to the sinking of the passenger ship MV Princess of the Stars in 2008.
DOJ prosecutors said that they were not given the chance to answer the demurrer to evidence which then-Sulpicio Lines vice president Edgar Go, filed.
The demurrer was effectively a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficient evidence.
The prosecutors added that they only received an electronic copy of Go’s petition two days before the court granted it.
Under Rules on Criminal Procedure, they should have had 10 days to file their comment after receiving a copy of the petition.
Their motion for reconsideration noted that no e-copy of the demurrer to evidence was received despite the accused and his counsel having their email addresses.
The state prosecutors also challenged the court’s conclusion that there was not enough proof to continue with Go’s trial for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, damage to property and serious physical injury.
In addition, they noted the Supreme Court’s declaration of Go’s possible culpability in a resolution issued Dec. 18, 2018, which resumed his criminal indictment.
“The facts upon which the honorable Supreme Court found probable cause to indict accused Go belie this honorable court’s finding that there is nothing that proves the culpability of accused Go,” they said.
The SC resolution pointed out that the official “failed to closely monitor and assess the movement of the vessel as against the movement of Typhoon Frank.” It added that he could have ordered ship captain Florencio Marimon to seek shelter in the vicinity of Batangas after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) had warned that “it would come face to face with the eye of Typhoon Frank if it continued along its regular route.”
However, Sulpicio officials called the typhoon “an act of God” and accused Pagasa of gross negligence due to its alleged inaccuracies in their forecast.
On June 21, 2008, Typhoon Frank (international name: Fengshen) buffeted southern Luzon, causing MV Princess of the Stars to sink. The incident claimed over 800 souls with only 32 surviving passengers.
Earlier in October, the Public Attorney’s Office said that the Cebu court had decided to compensate the heirs of the people who died. The total amount came to over P200 million.