The Public Attorney’s Office criticized a lower court in Manila Thursday for absolving the criminal liability of the owner of Sulpicio Lines Inc., now renamed the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Inc. in a sea tragedy 13 years ago.
At a news conference at the PAO central office in Quezon City, Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said the Manila City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 54 dismissed the reckless imprudence charges against lone defendant Edgar Go, the owner of Sulpicio Lines Inc.
She clarified it was the state prosecutor panel from the Department of Justice that was handling the criminal case, and not the PAO.“The prosecution will be filing a motion for reconsideration, and that the private complainants, relatives of those who died in the sea tragedy, will join in the filing,” she said.
In a Nov. 18 order, Branch 54 dropped the raps against Go due to insufficiency of evidence “to sustain the indictment or to support a verdict of guilt.”
The PAO chief maintained that the prosecution was able to establish the identity and culpability of Go “considering that Go has the power and control over the operations of the vessels of Sulpicio Lines Inc. was, thus, already clearly established even at the preliminary investigation of this case.”
M/V Princess of the Stars owned by Sulpicio Lines capsized on June 21, 2008 off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon at the height of typhoon”Frank.”
“Who owned Sulpicio Lines? Why grant Go’s demurrer to evidence? Was there magic? The prosecution had overwhelming evidence against Go,” Rueda-Acosta said.
She said virtual hearing never took place before coming up with the case dismissal, nor did the complainants receive any notice of hearing.
“There is still a remedy. I am very much disgruntled on behalf of our (indigent) clients. The case had dragged on for 13 years,” she lamented.
Last October, the Cebu Regional Trial Court ordered the indemnification to 55 heirs of the victims amounting to P199.1 million.