Asian Marine can’t be blamed — lawyer

December 09,2016 - 11:15 PM

ASIAN Marine Transport Corp., the operator of the vessel that ran aground at the Sta. Fe Sanctuary last Nov. 25, could not be faulted for the incident because it was due to the strong winds and waves brought about by tropical depression Marce.

Lawyer Jania dela Cruz, AMTC counsel, said that AMTC should not be blamed for damages which their vessel caused on corals found on the shallow waters of the Hilantagaan Island.

“Assuming without admitting, that there was indeed damage to the corals and marine life, AMTC cannot be entirely blamed for it because the proximate cause was force majeure or beyond the control of man, to which AMTC cannot be held liable for,” Dela Cruz said in a December 5 letter to Baltazar Tribunalo, head of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro).

A copy of Dela Cruz’s letter was received at the Penro office on December 6.

MV Super Shuttle Ferry 3 (SSF 3) had been taking shelter at the Port of Sta. Fe where it was undergoing repair when tropical storm Marce hit on November 24.

Strong waves brought the vessel to the waters of Hilantagaan Island, located about 3.5 kilometers from the Sta. Fe Port, where it ran aground.

Romel Kirit, Penro senior environment specialist, said there was a need to remove the vessel so they could assess the damage it caused on the corals.

Kirit said there was a need to rehabilitate the damaged corals. They are also coordinating with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Central Visayas office (BFAR-7), the Cebu Coast Guard, Sta. Fe town officials and AMTC regards to the amount and monetary cost of the damage.

In her letter to Tribunalo, Dela Cruz said, her client received a notarized Letter of Undertaking from Penro asking them to take responsibility of the coral reef damage and pay the corresponding claims.

“Any claims of damages must first be established with certainty by providing proof/evidence that: 1. it is officially declared to be a marine protected area, 2. findings would point to the fact that there was damage caused by our vessel and to what extent, 3. claimants are entitled to be compensated by law.” said Dela Cruz’s letter.

Unless the three considerations are clearly established, “we regret to inform you that we cannot issue any Undertaking to that effect as this would subject AMTC to all claims of any nature even if it is baseless and frivolous.”

In the Marine Note of Protest which he submitted to PCG on November 28, Ship Captain Nick Aromin said SSF 3 was “safely removed” from the waters of Hilantagaan Islet and afloated about 7:10 p.m. on November 25.

Aromin added in his marine protest that “upon further inspection, it was found out that the propeller shaft had moved slightly backwards thereby presenting a risk of water ingress if not repaired immediately and temporarily securing the detached propeller shaft, management had advised the Master and tug master to tow the vessel direct to the company operated wharf at pier 10 – Ouano (wharf), Mandaue City for immediate repair.” /USJ-R Intern Vanisa Soriano

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TAGS: AMTC Carousel, Baltazar Tribunalo, BFAR-7, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource, Central Visayas, hilantagaan, Jania dela Cruz, Mandaue City, marce, MV Super Shuttle Ferry 3, PENRO, SSF, SSF 3, tropical depression

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