Charges filed vs firm, officers of Chinese ship in Mindoro collision

MANILA, Philippines, July 7 ------ Criminal charges have been filed against the shipping company, master and officers of Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel MV Vienna Wood more than a week after its collision with a Filipino fishing boat. The 12 Filipino fishermen and two passengers aboard FV Liberty 5 remain missing following a collision with the Chinese vessel on June 27.

Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said complaints of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and damage of property have been filed against four individuals before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Occidental Mindoro Monday morning. Lt. Valerie Lagua, station commander of PCG Occidental Mindoro, acted as the complainant while witnesses included coast guard personnel, responders and fishermen. Based on the charge sheet, the respondents were identified as Zhang Weiwei, Shin Bin, Yi Lei and Yang Xileng.

The coast guard has yet to release information on what posts the Chinese nationals charged had on the ship. Asked about the status of the 14 missing people aboard the Philippine boat, Balilo said presumption of death may only be declared by the court. On Thursday last week, the coast guard shifted to search and retrieval operations after three full days of search and rescue operations without any sign of the missing persons. The coast guard earlier said the 14 missing Filipinos might have been trapped under the boat when it capsized. The scene of the collision in the coastal waters of Occidental Mindoro were approximately 2,000 meters deep while technical divers may reach only up to 100 meters.