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Marina administrator Suazo quits as Sulpicio takes further hammering

Marina administrator Suazo quits as Sulpicio takes further hammering

Manila: The administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on Tuesday announced his resignation from the government's maritime transport agency.

Vicente Suazo Jr's resignation was effective August 31.  Suazo's term was set to end on July 2010. The official, however, explained that he wanted to work for the private sector and not for a government agency.

Suazo will turn over the post to Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary for Maritime Affairs Elena Bautista on September 3, Wednesday.

The Marina investigating panel on the sinking of Sulpicio Lines' M/V Princess of the Stars is supposed to end its probe this week.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asked Marina to cancel Sulpicio Lines Inc.'s franchise as well as its passenger and cargo operations.

The Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) had recommended only the suspension of the firm's franchise after finding it neglected to perform its duties.

The move, however, drew the ire of representatives from Sulpicio Lines.

"This is for propaganda. There is no more justice that Sulpicio can obtain," said Arthur Lim, lawyer of the shipping firm.

Worse news for the Go family owned shipping firm came from Cebu where Sulpicio Lines Inc. was ordered by a regional trial court to pay P14.3 million to the families and victims who survived the sinking of the MV Princess of the Orient 10 years ago.

Eight plaintiffs filed the civil case against the management of the Cebu-based shipping company.

Judge Generosa Labra of Regional Trial Court Branch 23 found Sulpicio guilty of gross negligence and breach of contract for failure to transport the passengers safely to their destination when the Princess of the Orient sank in the evening of September 18, 1998. Sulpicio has been involved in more than 20 shipping incidents since 1980.  [02/09/08