Press Release
August 25, 2006


The incident involving the oil spill in Guimaras Island is a wake-up call. There is more to it than meets the eye. I have received information coming from concerned maritime officials that, the MT Solar I, the vessel owned by Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation was a vessel bound for disaster from the very day it arrived in Philippine shores.

So that the Filipino people may know, and in the interest of truth, I bring to your attention the following facts based on available records:

The MT Solar I was a converted vessel. Its former names were New Hinase and Chie Maru no.8. According to Lloyds Register of Shipping Vessels, the MT Solar was initially a tanker in 1988 under the name Chie Maru no.8. In 1989, it was converted into a Chemical Tanker under the name New Hinase. From a Chemical Tanker, it was again reconverted into an oil tanker presumably in the Philippines. This is highly questionable and anomalous. Ang laki, ang haba at ang bigat ng barko ay pabago-bago. Hindi na natin malaman kung anong klase ito. Ang identity crisis na ito ang dahilan ng paglubog.

The convertions were done with the full knowledge and consent of the Maritime Authority (MARINA), based on evidence of the licenses given to the ship to operate in Philippine waters compromised greatly the seaworthiness of the ship.

There is strong evidence that, the vessel was overloaded and all available air space between the cofferdams were also loaded with oil, thereby causing loss of stability and trim. According to the report prepared by Coast Guard Investigating Officer Arnie Santiago, the ship sank in a matter of twenty (20) minutes. Maritime experts believe that, for a vessel like this to sink so quickly water would have seeped in, thereby discharging 90% of the bunker oil into the sea.

The vessel, along with two others, was acquired in 2001, only a year after Sunshine Maritime Management was incorporated. How was it that a corporation with only a paid up capital of Ten Million Pesos (P10,000.000.00) able to acquire these vessels?

If the captain of the vessel did not have the tanker safety training certificate, we are in doubt if the rest of the crew were also certified on tanker safety. Bakit ito pinayagan ng MARINA?

These facts are not being revealed by the owner and PETRON, which chartered the vessel. Is the being done deliberately? Ito ba ay isang cover-up?

Further, I strongly condemn the use by the Philippine Coast Guard of chemical dispersants in the clean-up. This is a clear case of double kill! Instead of using chemical dispersants which kill marine life, PETRON and Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation should pay for the use of bioremediation, which will not harm human or marine life.

Finally, I challenge Mrs. Arroyo to create instead an independent body to probe this alleged incident. The MARINA which allowed the registration of a badly modified vessel cannot be an investigator, judge and executioner at the same time.

The tragedy will only get worst. Due to the lax response of government in handling this issue, the oil spill is now expected to move and reach the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan when the Northeast Monsoon winds shift by next week.

This incident will be marked not only as the worst oil spill in the Philippines but also as on the worst in the world. This was tragedy abetted and aided by corruption and negligence. Ilan pa kayang mga floating coffins and bumibiyahe sa karagatan ng Pilipinas?

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