Manila RTC orders Sulpicio to pay Php 242 M to families of victims of M/V Princess of the Star sea mishap

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Oct. 14 (PNA) –A Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the former Sulpicio Lines, Inc.’s, now Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC), to pay Php 241.7 million in damages to the families of the victims of the sinking of its M/V Princess of the Stars at the height of Typhoon Frank on June 21, 2008.

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, lawyer of the victims, has shown to the media the 87-page decision dated Sept. 18, 2015 of the Manila RTC Branch 49, which ruled in favor of Celerna Calayag, et al., victims and heirs of the victims of the tragedy.

M/V Princess of the Stars sailed for for Cebu from the Port of Manila on June 20, 2008 with 849 individuals, 709 of whom were passengers, 29 contractors and 111 crew members.

It capsized in the Sibuyan Sea at 21:30 p.m. the next day and only 32 people survived; 227 died and 592 were reported missing.

The RTC ruled that Calayag and the other victims were able to prove by preponderance of evidence the negligence of Sulpicio Lines/PSACC, owned by the Go family, namely Enrique S. Go, Eusebio S. Go, Carlos S. Go, Victoriano S. Go, Dominador S. Go, Ricardo S. Go, Edward S. Go, and Edgar S. Go.

“Wherefore, judgement is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants Sulpicio Lines, Inc.(now Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation), Enrique S. Go, Eusebio S. Go, Carlos S. Go, Victoriano S. Go, Dominador S. Go, Ricardo S. Go, Edward S. Go, and Edgar S. Go, ordering them to pay jointly and severally,” the RTC ruling said.

The RTC ordered Sulpicio and the Go family to pay a total of Php241,761,256.34, which include the Php230,248,815.56 damages plus Php 11,512,440.78 worth of attorneys fees.

The victims were able to establish that there was a contract of carriage between the passengers and the said shipping line, as proven by the Passenger’s Manifest and by the Releases and Quitclaims which serve as express admission on the part of Sulpicio/PSACC that the recipients of the amounts covered therein were victims and survivors of the said tragedy.

“In these cases, the plaintiffs presented evidence to prove that their loved ones had the earning capacity. There has already been a computation submitted by the parties as contained in their individual complaint. However, this court, guided by prevailing jurisprudence, rules that in the computation of the loss of earning capacity of the deceased relatives of the plaintiffs, the amount of 50-percent must be deducted from the same, to arrive at the net earning capacity,” the RTC ruling said. (PNA)