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Murder charges filed against banca owner, captain, crew

By: Jhunnex Napallacan July 05,2015 - 01:42 AM

Rescuers rescues passengers of the ill-fated MB Nirvana that capsized off Ormoc. (PHOTO BY JHAY GASPAR)

Rescuers rescue passengers of the ill-fated MB Nirvana that capsized off Ormoc. (PHOTO BY JHAY GASPAR)

Multiple murder charges were filed against the owner, the boat captain and 17 crewmen of the MB Kim Nirvana-B    for the deaths of 59 passengers in  Thursday’s sea mishap.

“They were not careful, showing there was an intent to kill. They were reckless on purpose,” Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, PNP Eastern Visayas regional chief, said.

The criminal charges were filed on Friday  at the Ormoc City Prosecutor’s Office against boat owner Joge Bung Zarco, boat captain Warren Oliverio and crewmen.

All of them are detained at the Ormoc City Police Office station.

Asked on how long they would be detained, SP02 Ruita said it will depend on the resolution of the case at the prosecutor’s office.

Based on initial  police investigation and accounts of  survivors the vessel turned abruptly to the right soon after it left the port of Ormoc City, causing it to capsize.

READ: GRIEF GRIPS PILAR

The Philippine Coast Guard-Eastern Visayas confirmed yesterday that the number of casualties reached 59 while there were 145 survivors. There was no mention of missing passengers.

The police investigation is separate from a Coast Guard inquiry, which will primarily determine the cause of the accident.

“We filed the charges as soon as we could because we don’t want the suspects to leave the country,” Dolina said.

However, the Coast Guard may also recommend the filing of criminal and administrative charges.

The total number of dead and surviving passengers reached 204, which confirmed earlier suspicions of overloading.

When MV Kim Nirvana-B left Ormoc City heading for Pilar, Camotes, only 173 passengers were listed in the manifest.  But the actual count reached 178.

Assertion

Aside from the passengers, there were 18 crew members headed by Oliverio plus the owner.

Also charged with multiple murder were crew members Ted Belarmino, Roy Obeda, Edwin Bugtai, Willy Obeda, Renante Lazona, Elmer Patuan,  Rey Obeda, Romel Gocela, Eric Zarco, Valiente Borinaga, Eligardo Garcitos, Jesus Donayre,

Delfin Maaghop, Raymond Obeda, Dandy Damayo, Alberto Borinaga and Rico Cabonegro.

Ruita said the statements of survivors and the relatives compiled by the police were the basis in the filing of the case.

Most of the fatalities, 35, were from the town of Pilar, Camotes Island with the rest from nearby towns.

Mayor Jesus Fernandez said the town and the Cebu provincial government wrote the hospitals to guarantee payment.

Ormoc City Councilor Godiardo Ebcas, who helped oversee rescue operations, said the overloading of cargo and passengers may have been to blame for the disaster.

Survivors reported seeing up to 150 sacks of cement and more of rice and fertilizer in the ship’s cargo area before it capsized in relatively calm seas, he said.

Bloated bodies spilled out of the Kim Nirvana’s wooden hull as a crane lifted it from the water and set it on the Ormoc pier, Ebcas said.

The Coast Guard earlier said the 33-ton ship could carry 194 people including 178 passengers and 16 crew.

But based on the Ormoc City Council death toll, the ship was carrying at least 198 persons.

“The ship might not be too overloaded in terms of passengers, but imagine the weight of its cargo,” Ebcas said.

Each sack of rice, cement and fertilizer weighs 50 kilos (110 pounds), and 150 sacks would easily add 7,500 kilos to the ship’s load, excluding passengers, he said.

Passengers on the ferry’s regular route from Ormoc to the Camotes islands regularly bring supplies from the city to their remote fishing villages.

Search operations with rescue divers were stopped last Friday before the ship was lifted to the port’s berthing area./With an AFP report

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TAGS: Camotes, MB Kim Nirvana-B, Ormoc, Pilar

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