2 Coast Guard officials' liability in Guimaras oil spill case affirmed

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2016 05:41 PM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the finding of administrative liability against two officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over the dismissal of a civil case in connection with the sinking of a motor tanker off the coast of Guimaras Island in 2006, spilling a substantial quantity of bunker oil.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, dated September 9, 2016, the appellate court, through its 15th Division, found no reversible error in the assailed decision and joint order of the Office of the Ombudsman, thereby denying the petition for review of PCG's Commander Ramon B. Reblora and Lcdr. Lazaro Ernesto C. Valdez, Jr., for lack of merit.

The case involves the sinking of M/T Solar 1 off the coast of Guimaras on August 11, 2006.

A civil case was filed on January 4, 2007 by the PCG before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 for damages. Based on records before the Ombudsman, the case before the trial court was dismissed on March 6, 2009 due to the failure of Reblora and Valdez to appear in the hearings.

The Ombudsman found Reblora and Valdez guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best of interest of the service and imposed upon them the penalty of six months suspension from office, without pay. Their motion for reconsideration was also junked, which led them to elevate their case to the CA.

In its ruling, the appellate court said "petitioners' lack of diligence and zeal in the performance of their duties as lawyers and officers of the [PCG] constitutes inefficiency and dereliction of duty, acts which tarnished the image and integrity of their public office."