Insurance firm commits to retrieve remaining oil inside sunken MT Princess Empress -- DOJ

An insurance firm pledged the retrieval of the remaining industrial oil in the MT Princess Empress that sank off the cost of Oriental Mindoro last Feb. 28.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez said on Tuesday, April 25, that Valeriano Del Rosario and May Valles, representatives of Shipowners’ Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I), gave the commitment during the insurance firm’s first appearance in the inter-agency dialogue on the oil spill held last week.

“There is a big breakthrough. The P&I committed to do the retrieval operations, and the possibility of raising the vessel itself. But it’s up to their technical assessment whether or not that would be considered,” Vasquez said.

He said the pledge of commitment by P&I was timely since the United States and Japanese coast guards that brought their own remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) have already left the site where MT Princess Empress sank.

“We gave them (P&I) 10 days to give us the report and for them to tell us how soon they will do that,” he also said.

Vasquez said it was estimated that the vessel still contains about 300,000 liters of industrial oil from the 900,000 it initially carried when it sank last Feb. 28.

He said that International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC) Director Gaute Sivertsten also attended the dialogue for the first time.

“The fact that the IOPC visited us and this showed their commitment to settle all claims because the IOPC is the one that handled the funds. Since the Philippines is a member state in that convention that created IOPC and the IOPC is the one handling the funding for all claims in respect to disaster,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Vasquez revealed that National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has “more or less completed the fact-finding data.”

“Under the case buildup rule that we have now under the DOJ, the findings will now have to be assessed by the National Prosecution Service before we would even initiate case whether criminal, civil or administrative against anyone, any entity, or the P&I, the shipowner,” he said.