Manila RTC junks criminal raps filed vs Sulpicio Lines VP Go in 2009 sinking of Princess of Stars

Published December 3, 2021, 5:47 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Regional Trial Court

The Manila regional trial court (RTC) has dismissed the criminal charges filed against former Sulpicio Lines, Inc. (SLI) Vice President Edgar S. Go in connection with the deaths of 227 passengers in the 2009 sinking of passenger ship M/V Princess of the Stars.

In a 14-page order dated Nov. 18, RTC Judge Maria Paz R. Reyes Yson granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Go who challenged the evidence presented by the prosecution as insufficient to prove his guilt.

Go was charged with multiple counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, physical injuries and damage to properties in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

“Clearly, there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that accused Go committed any act or omission to prove inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the offender, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition, and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place that would make him criminally liable for reckless imprudence,” Judge Yson said in her order.

“The prosecution’s evidence is even bereft of proof of the authority of Go in Sulpicio Lines,” she said.

She pointed out that the claims that Go is the owner of SLI “consist merely of allegations” and “mere allegations are not evidence.”

The M/V Princess of the Stars sank in June 2009 in the vicinity of Sibuyan Islands in Romblon after having sailed without heeding the warnings of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) due to typhoon Frank.

The charges stated that Go, as a responsible officer of SLI, failed to give instructions to the ship captain “to take shelter and drop anchor or return to the port of Manila.”

Though the prosecution presented testimonial evidence, Judge Yson said “the knowledge of the witnesses presented is limited to the sinking of the ship” and “they do not have personal knowledge of the commission of any act or omission on the part of accused Edgar Go.”

“They neither saw or hear him give any instruction that led to the sinking of the vessel,” she pointed out.

“Neither was there any reference to his alleged act of omission,” she added.

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Demurrer to Evidence dated Oct. 27, 2021, is hereby granted. Accordingly, the case against accused Edgar Go is hereby dismissed with prejudice” Judge Yson ruled.

Dismissal of a case “with prejudice” means that it cannot be refiled anymore.