More than 13 years after M/V Princess of the Stars capsized, the Cebu Regional Trial Court has ordered indemnification amounting to P199.1 million to 55 heirs of the victims of the sea tragedy, according to the Public Attorney’s Office.
A passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines, M/V Princess of the Stars sank on June 21, 2008 off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon due to rough seas at the height of typhoon “Frank” that passed directly over the island province.
According to the last official figures made, 814 persons were declared dead and missing with only 56 known survivors, making a total of 870 people on board. Sulpicio Lines had announced there had been 755 manifested passengers and 111 crew members, making a total of 866.
PAO chief Persida Acosta said she received the copies of the decision of Branch 16 Judge Dante Corminal just on Monday, saying: “Of the 59 cases, 55 were granted damages, while four were dismissed for their failure to present evidence.”
“Of the four cases dismissed, the PAO will file the appropriate motion(s) for reconsideration,” she said.
At the time of the incident, Sulpicio Lines offered to pay the bereaved families P200,000 each, by way of compensation. The ruling of the Cebu court yesterday would give each of the 55 heirs P3.62 million if the award were divided equally among them.
At least 71 cases were filed in Manila and 63 others in Cebu.
The 71 cases were consolidated before the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 51, while 59 of the 63 cases in Cebu were consolidated before the Regional Trial Court of Cebu Branch 16.
“In Manila, the cases were decided in favor of the plaintiffs by the Hon. Daniel Villanueva, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 51 and ordered the award of damages to the said plaintiffs. However, the said decision is now the subject of appeal before the Court of Appeals,” PAO said in a statement.
“We thank the judiciary, Judge Villanueva and Judge Corminal... Even if our clients were poor, you gave weight to the evidence. We hope such a tragedy would not happen again,” Acosta told the media.
She thanked Dr. Erwin Erfe, PAO forensic chief, who led the exhumation and identification of 38 skeletal remains of the victims and 100 skeletal remains of those trapped under the water.
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