Foreign ship that ruined Sarangani coral reef leaves

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 September) — The foreign-vessel that rammed into a protected coral reef in Sarangani has left the country after paying an initial P10 million for damages, Arnel Zapatos, Sarangani chief legal officer, said.

Zapatos said the owners of MV Double Prosperity also issued a P46 million surety bond before it was allowed to go, as a guarantee in case it will renege on its obligation.

The Panama-registered vessel, which measures 225 meters long and 32 meters wide, rammed into Bacud Reef off Kiamba town on May 8, en route to India from Australia loaded with nearly 66,000 tons of coal.

The Sarangani government earlier declared that the larger damage on the corals was purportedly due to the efforts of the towage company, the Malayan Towage & Salvage Corporation, to refloat the foreign vessel by pulling it in many directions.

MV Double Prosperity was stuck for over a month in Bacud Reef before it was finally refloated.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier pegged the amount of compensation for Bacud Reef to be at least P42 million

The bulk cargo carrier’s release came even as the Philippine Coast Guard’s Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) has yet to come up with a final recommendation.

“The vessel left last August 20,” he told MindaNews.

Zapatos said the P46 million may partly be used to rehabilitate Bacud Reef as well as for the penalties imposed by the law.

The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Sarangani earlier expressed its intention to forge an out-of-court settlement with Yano Kaiun Co. Ltd. of Japan, the vessel’s owner.

Zapatos said the PAMB and the lawyers of the cargo vessel have agreed to come-up with “a final out-of-court settlement in November or even earlier.”

The SBMI also assured that by that time, it will already have its recommendation since both parties have already submitted their position papers.

MV Double Prosperity, which was manned mostly by a Filipino crew, rammed into the reef the day world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao fought and defeated Shane Mosley in the United States.

In an earlier investigation report, the PCG cited three possible causes for the accident: the officer failed to properly maneuver, the master failed to provide navigational watch due to alcohol impairment, and the ship was on auto pilot and not one was manning the wheel. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)