The Masbate provincial board is holding on to its opposition to the lifting of the ban on the operation of a shipping line that owned a passenger ship that killed over 150 persons when it sank after catching fire off the coast of Pagbilao, Quezon last year.
The board, however, may soften its stand if the management of Montenegro
Shipping Lines (MSL) is able to settle its financial obligations to the families of the passengers who perished with its ship MV Maria Carmela that caught fire in April last year before reaching Dalahican Port in Lucena City.
There were prospects for an out-of-court settlement that is being arranged by the board between the claimants and the MSL.
The shipping lines general manager, Vicente Montenegro Jr. will appear before a Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session this month to wrap up the negotiation, Legazpi said.
MSL has applied with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for a new permit to operate in the Masbete-Lucena route and the endorsement of the SP is necessary for its approval.
MARINA canceled the MSL franchise in the route following the MV Maria
Carmela tragedy. Legazpi said, the SP will only desist from opposing the shipping lines bid to serve the route again the moment its releases payments for the claimants.
The board has suggested to MSL lawyer Sajid Mamer Hernandez who appeared dunng a recent session that partial payments of P100,000 for each passenger who died be paid.
"It will be known from Montenegro when he appears before the board if the management would come across or not," the vice governor said.
Anyway, he said the MV Carmela Movement which was organized by relatives of the victims had already filed formal complaints against the MSL, its owners, ship captain, crewmen and two officials of the Philippine Coast Guard for multiple homicide through reckless imprudence.
The complainants are seeking compensation for damages from the accused through the court while making the SP session hall a venue for amicable settlements, Legazpi said.