Charges filed vs execs of HK-flagged boat

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    THE Philippine Coast Guard yesterday filed criminal charges against four officers of Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel MV Vienna Wood that rammed a Philippine fishing boat off Occidental Mindoro last month.

    The 14 fishermen and passengers of the ill-fated Liberty 5 went missing after the June 27 incident and are presumed dead.

    MV Vienna Wood officers Zhang Weiwei, Shin Bin, Yi Lei, and Yang Xileng, all Chinese, were charged before the provincial prosecutors office for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property.

    PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said Lt. Valerie Lagua, commander of the PCG Station in Occidental Mindoro, acted as the complainant against the four.

    “(The complaint was) filed at the provincial prosecutors office to determine probable cause,” said Balillo, adding witnesses in the case include PCG personnel and fishermen who responded to the scene.

    The complaint effectively presumed the 14 fishermen and passengers of FV Liberty 5 to be already dead. Balilo said the 14 are “still missing” and it is up to the court to legally declare them as dead.

    Authorities shifted to search and retrieval operations, from search and rescue, on Friday last week. The retrieval operation was supposed to end last Sunday but was extended up to today.

    PCG commander Vice Adm. George Ursabia earlier said investigation showed MV Vienna Wood rammed the Liberty 5 boat due to bad weather and poor visibility caused by the southwest monsoon.

    Officials said Liberty 5, homeported in Palawan, was en route to the Navotas fish port when the accident occurred while MV Vienna Wood was on the way to Australia from Subic in Zambales.