BMI wraps up Sulpicio probe but keeps mum on findings

MANILA, Philippines—The Board of Marine Inquiry has determined what caused the MV Princess of the Stars to capsize and who would be held liable for the disaster, BMI chair Rear Adm. Ramon Liwag said Tuesday.

After listening to 28 witnesses in 13 hearings and losing two of its original members who resigned on charges of being biased, the BMI completed its report containing its findings and recommendations on Tuesday, Liwag said.

But Liwag refused to disclose the contents of the report, saying it would be submitted first to Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo, who would review it and then pass it on to Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

“Definitely, we have findings there,” Liwag said when asked if the cause of the sinking was established. “That is what we were supposed to do,” he said in a phone interview.

Liwag said the BMI had found administrative lapses, but would not say who had committed the violations.

As for any criminal prosecution of those found responsible, he said it would be up to the other agencies if it wanted to use its report as the basis for any further action.

Sulpicio Lines earlier said the sinking of its ship was an “act of God” and presented before the board a veteran international ship captain who supported its stand and said no vessel similar to the Princess of the Stars would have survived Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

The company has also filed a P4.5-million lawsuit blaming the country’s weather bureau for its allegedly erroneous report that supposedly sent the ship right into the typhoon’s path. Leila B. Salaverria(PDI)

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