Press Release
September 20, 2006


Sen. Jamby Madrigal today strongly criticized the results of the inquiry on MT Solar 1 sinking that led to the Guimaras oil spill saying it had traces of a grand cover-up and a whitewash.

According to the Senator, the SBMI report on the August 11 incident was haphazardly done in two short weeks thereby raising more questions rather than answers. Calling the findings of the inquiry catastrophic as the tragedy itself, she has called for a thorough unearthing of facts behind the incident.

To the SBMI that conducted the investigation, the liabilities are mere lapses. This is condemnable. This tragedy has resulted in the death already of a child who died of inhaling the toxic fumes emitted by the oil spill, death of two (2) crew members of the vessel, and other damages to the environment and the Filipino people, which are incapable of pecuniary estimation. They are not lapses. They are crimes which deserves punishment, Senator Madrigal said.

Under the law, MARINA officials who knowingly or unknowingly facilitated these acts can be held criminally and administratively liable. Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act punishes and declares as unlawful, causing any undue injury to any private party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

In a privilege speech, Senator Madrigal emphasized that the MT Solar 1 was a vessel destined to create havoc from the moment it entered Philippine waters since its seaworthiness has been severely compromised and prejudiced. She based her points on the following undeniable facts:

  • MARINA allowed the registration of the vessel without exercising due diligence. In Certificate of Vessel Registry Number 047182 dated 14 April 2005 , there is no mention at all that, the vessel was modified or converted. If MARINA had diligently done its duty, they could have easily seen that the New Hinase alias MT Solar 1 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 .
  • MARINA allowed the vessel to ply Philippine waters despite the fact that, it was already suspended from its class . This is highly anomalous. The New Hinase alias MT Solar 1 was suspended from its class by Bureau Veritas from December 29, 2005 to July 2006, and yet when it was allowed to travel and move cargo eighteen (18) times from the Port of Lamao, Limay, Bataan to various points of destination such as Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Cebu, Iligan and Leyte. Under normal circumstances, a vessel that has been suspended from its class should be grounded and not allowed to travel. This is consistent with international law provisions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). Under UNCLOS, once a ship is registered, the flag State has certain duties laid out. In particular, under Article 94, the flag State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag and take such measures for ships flying its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea.. By allowing the New Hinase alias MT Solar 1 to travel despite its suspension from class, MARINA directly violated section 22 of Republic Act 9295 which provides that, All vessels, whether newly built or previously owned, which are acquired on or after the effectivity of this Act be classified by a government recognized classification society on the date of acquisition prior to its operation in the domestic trade.
  • MARINA allowed the registration of the vessel despite the fact that, it was only provisionally classed by international classification society Bureau Veritas. In Provisional Classification Certificate no. MNL0/JBL/20060125917 AM, the ship New Hinase alias Solar 1 owned by New Hinase Kisen Co., Ltd., was provisionally classed for its hull and machinery only from April 2006 to 6 October 2006.
  • MARINA allowed the registration of a foreign owned vessel. All documents prove that it is foreign owned. In the Certificado Internacional de Arqueo or the International Tonnage Certificate no.69 0871 issued by the Panama Bureau of Shipping, the port of registry of the New Hinase alias Solar 1 is Panama. This is in violation of section 6 of Republic Act 9295 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations issued on November 30, 2004 which provides that, No foreign vessels shall be allowed to transport passengers or cargo between ports or places within the Philippine territorial waters, except upon the grant of a special permit by the MARINA when no domestic vessels is available or suitable to provide the needed shipping service and public interest so warrants.
  • MARINA allowed the vessel to ply Philippine waters despite the fact that, its Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate had already expired. The Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate of the New Hinase alias MT Solar 1 expired on 07 June 2006 . The oil spill incident occurred on 11 August 2006 . This is in violation of Section 5, Rule VI of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9295, which requires that, All ships are required to carry on board the relevant or applicable ship safety certificates as specified in Section 7.1.7 of Rule IV. Under Section 7.1.7, subsection a.2, a cargo ship safety certificate is required.
  • MARINA allowed the overloading the vessel. The tanker also lost its reserve buoyancy after it was allowed by MARINA to load more weight compared to that allowed by private classification society Bureau Veritas. The Bureau Veritas recommended load line was 1,220 millimeters, but the MARINA-approved certificate allowed the Solar I had a 700-mm load line. The lower the load line, the more weight the vessel could carry.

Given these facts, Senator Jamby Madrigal has sought for a four-pronged top to bottom investigation of the Guimaras oil spill involving the Solar 1 tanker to resolve unanswered questions revolving around the tragic incident. These are:

  • The Ombudsman conduct a fact finding investigation on why MARINA allowed a foreign registered vessel managed by a fly by night company without any proven track record to transport cargo in Philippine waters, when there are legitimately registered Philippine vessels available; the circumstances on why it allowed a converted vessel to operate in Philippine waters; and why it allowed a vessel with a crew holding expired certifications and lacking training to operate an oil tanker. Pending investigation, I ask that the Ombudsman place the concerned officials under preventive suspension.
  • The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) conduct an investigation on Sunshine Maritime Development Inc., particularly its payment of taxes and duties in connection with the entry of a foreign registered vessel.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pierce the veil of corporate entity of Sunshine Maritime to determine its real owners and ensure prosecution under the Anti-Dummy Law.
  • A Special Board of Inquiry be created. We cannot trust MARINA and the Coast Guard to make an independent determination of the cause and circumstances in the sinking of the vessel, because it is their negligence and corruption which allowed this incident to happen.

Senator Madrigal was quick to add that the incident involving the New Hinase alias Solar 1 is a microcosm of our state of affairswhether it be the issue of political killings, human rights abuses, charter change and electoral reforms, the executive has chosen instead to just ride the waves and ensure its own political survival to the detriment of the people.

She urged her fellow Senators to take up the slack; to provide leadership where there is none; to look into the interest of our maritime industry, the confused and demoralized maritime authorities, and a frightened and outraged citizenry. We must lead; we must act; we must deliberate and be deliberate in doing what is required of us, Madrigal stressed.

News Latest News Feed