Glan sues 11 foreign seafarers for pollution

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 July) – The municipal government of Glan in Sarangani province has filed pollution charges against 11 officers and crew of a Malaysian tugboat and barge that allegedly dumped coal wastes off the town’s waters last May.
Glan Mayor Victor James Yap said they formally filed the complaint against the all-foreign officers and crew of tugboat TB Oceania 1 and barge Oceania 2 before the Sarangani Prosecutor’s Office on Monday for violation of the country’s environment and fishery pollution laws.
He said the complaint cited violations of the Clean Water Act (pollution of water body), the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, Presidential Decree 979 (marine pollution) and the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (aquatic pollution).
Cited as respondents were Capt. Samsudin, Kyaw Htay, Shwe Thann, Keso Bin Tarjuki, Tu Kah Hua, Tar Var Linmyint, M. Fauzi Bin Apandi, Kumaedi, Russetia Wahit, M. Zaiful Hosen and Lau Nai Sing.
“They are all foreigners and are either Malaysian, Indonesian and Myanmar nationals,” Yap said in a statement.
The charges stemmed from the alleged dumping of coal wastes by the two foreign vessels, around 300 meters off the coasts of Barangay Kapatan in Glan last May 26.
TB Oceania 1 and DB Oceania 2, owned by Woodman Miri Sarawak of Malaysia, reportedly docked in Kapatan at around 5am on May 26 and allegedly flushed coal debris starting at 4 p.m. in the area, which is part of the 215,000-hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape.
The alleged dumping of the coal wastes was documented by a provincial government employee, who showed local authorities several photographs showing the tugboat and barge releasing dark-colored wastes into the sea.
Lt. Cmdr. Rejard Marfe, acting commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station here, said the vessels initially unloaded their coal cargo in Manila and proceeded to the city first to load scrap metals that were consigned by Cebu Metal before going back to Malaysia.
But he said the cargo was not yet ready prompting the two vessels to dock illegally in Kapatan, Glan as allegedly instructed by their local agent Seadove Maritime Agency.
Marfe said the vessels might have just docked away from the Makar Wharf here to avoid paying the docking fee charged by Philippine Ports Authority while waiting for their cargo.
Last June 1, the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape-Protected Area Management Board (SBPS-PAMB) led by Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez decided to initiate legal actions against the owners and crew of two Malaysian vessels.
It also authorized Mayor Yap of Glan to negotiate possible settlements with the vessels’ agents regarding their administrative liabilities.
Lawyer Arnel Zapatos, Sarangani legal officer, earlier said local government has a strong case against the 11 respondents since the ship owners and their captain already admitted the dumping of wastes into the Sarangani Bay.
Mayor Yap said the skipper of TB Oceania 1also admitted to him such violation in an earlier inquiry.
Owing to the incident, the PCG apprehended the two foreign vessels and held them at the Glan port pending further investigation and related legal proceedings. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)