Press Release
January 8, 2010

Gordon to Baleno owner: Face your responsibility
Volunteer-lawyers provide free legal aid to victims

(Calapan, Oriental Mindoro)--Together with volunteer-lawyers, Senator Richard J. Gordon and former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando on Friday went to Calapan, Mindoro and met with the survivors and families of victims of MV Baleno-9 to ease their burden by providing free legal assistance.

Gordon, who is also chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, said he had sought the help of lawyer friends to render their services for free to the victims of the ill-fated MV Baleno-9 who seek justice to what happened to them and their kin.

"As long as the names of the dead, missing and survivors are in the passenger manifest, the ship owner should immediately give what is due to them. The government should also assist the victims and their families so that their rights are protected," the senator said, stressing again the importance of having a complete manifest.

Lawyers from the Dario, Reyes, Hocson and Viado Law Firm, who volunteered their services, arrived with the senator to get the testimonies of the survivors and prepare affidavits for the victims and their relatives. They were: Reynaldo Dario, Rodolfo Reyes, Norman Hocson and Joel Viado.

Oriental Mindoro Gov. Arnan Panaligan, who was at the meeting, offered the use of the provincial capitol for the activity.

The lawyers asked the survivors and relatives of the other victims to fill up forms with their basic information. Eight of the twenty victims and relatives who signed were survivors while the remaining twenty were relatives of missing passengers.

"Basta ikaw ay nasa manifesto, o kahit wala ka sa manifesto if within 5 days na-report na nawawala ka, you are entitled to P200,000. Kung inaakala mong hindi sapat yan, pwede kang humingi ng mas mataas. Kung hindi maibibigay ang amount na gusto mo, magdedemanda. Ang amount ay depende sa kakayahan o estado nung biktima," Gordon explained to the survivors and their families

On Thursday, Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, conducted the third hearing on its investigation on maritime disasters. Present during the inquiry was Patrick Ang, corporate secretary of Besta Shipping Lines, owner of MV-Baleno-9.

Ang said they are willing to pay the victims and their families, but they need to submit documents, such as death certificate and other legal papers that would prove relationship to the victim, for the payment of claims.

But Gordon said having to secure all these documents would only give additional burden, on top of the anxiety brought by the tragedy, to the survivors and the families of victims.

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