Cordova plans to sue 2 firms

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Saturday, July 19, 2014


CORDOVA Mayor Adelino Sitoy said the Municipal Government will file a complaint against the two shipping companies whose vessels collided nearly a year ago off Lauis Ledge in Talisay City.

Bunker fuel and oil spread for several days after the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and M/V Sulpicio Express Siete collided last Aug. 16, 2013 and damaged marine life in the coastal barangays of Cordova and neighboring areas.

Sitoy said his town has not received any compensation from the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC), which operates Sulpicio Express Siete, and 2GO, which owns the Aquinas ferry.

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The mayor also said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has not given “clear communication”, adding that the effort to demand compensation should come from the environment agency.

“Mokiha ba sila o motan-aw na lang sila? Ila man unta ning initiative. Maninguha unta sila (Will they file a complaint or will they just watch? It should be their initiative. They should at least exert effort),” Sitoy told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

The collision killed more than a hundred people. Nearly 800 survived. A portion of the Aquinas still remains at the bottom of the sea.

Last year, DENR 7 reported that 328 hectares of mangroves were severely damaged in 12 barangays in Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City. 

It estimated the damage at P20,000 for every hectare.
Demand: P85.1M 

Cordova is seeking P85.1 million as compensation for the oil spill that affected the livelihood of fishermen from 13 barangays and reduced the fish vendors’ earnings.

Two weeks after the collision, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that the oil spill had affected 13 barangays in Cordova, six in Lapu-Lapu City and seven in Talisay City.

To cope, Mayor Sitoy said, they just used the P5 million assistance extended by Capitol after the calamity.

The mayor said he wanted to go directly to the insurance company of these vessels to collect the amount but the two shipping companies refused to divulge the names of their providers.

When sought for comment, DENR 7 Spokesperson Eddie Llamedo denied that they did not do something about Cordova’s oil spill.

He said that last October, DENR 7 Director Isabelo Montejo sent a demand letter to the shipping firms, asking for P41.705 million in damage compensation caused by the oil spill.

But “2GO challenged the damage amount because they are not comfortable with the results of the study conducted by DENR,” Llamedo told Sun.Star yesterday.

Both 2Go Shipping and DENR commissioned Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba last October to assess the effects of the oil spill on the mangroves.

Comparison

Llamedo said that DENR has asked for a copy of the assessment report, but they have yet to receive it.

“We have to see the report (Sadaba’s), compare and reconcile it with our damage estimate,” he said.

Sadaba is the head of the University of the Philippines-Visayas Oil Spill Program.

“The position of DENR is to wait for the result (decision) of the special board of marine inquiry (SBMI),” said Llamedo.

As to PSACC, Llamedo quoted the company as saying they should not be a party to the computation of damage, as it was not their oil that spilled out.

Sun.Star sought the reaction of PSACC’s Harold Go, but the latter said that their lawyer in Manila will answer queries about the case.

In a separate interview, PSACC Port Captain Nestor Ponteres said their vessel has protection and indemnity coverage that could answer all claims.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 20, 2014.

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