MANILA – All 20 crew members of Hong Kong-flagged MV Vienna Wood were ordered to remain in the country on Wednesday, as part of a criminal case brought against the merchant vessel and its shipping company for the sinking of the fishing vessel (FV) Liberty 5 and its 14 missing Filipino crew and passengers.
Commodore Armando Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson, said a hold departure order (HDO) was issued by a local court against all 20 crew members of the ship following petitions from the PCG and Irma Fishing and Trading Co. (Irma), the company that owns FV Liberty 5.
Initially, he said Judge Ulysses Delgado of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44 in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro granted an HDO against the seven primary respondents in the case — namely ship captain Zhang Wei Wei, third officer Shi Bin, second officer Yi Lei, chief officer Yang Xifeng, Fan Qoujin, Xia Zhen, and Wang Xingtu.
However, he said Irma’s petition for an HDO for all 20 crew members of MV Vienna Wood was later granted by the court after it was consolidated with the PCG’s case.
“PCG impleaded seven for the HDO but Irma filed an HDO for 20 crew members. The court consolidated the petition and granted HDO for the 20 crew members of the MV Vienna Wood,” Balilo said.
Currently, he said the defendants — who will all be facing a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property, along with shipping company Nomikos Transworld Maritime — are detained at the Batangas Port.
Following the granting of the HDO, PCG commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said he considers the development “significant progress in resolving” the maritime incident.
“With the granting of the Hold Departure Order against MV Vienna Wood, rest assured that the PCG will continue to monitor the legal proceedings, while seaborne patrol operations are ongoing to locate the missing fishermen and passengers of FV Liberty 5. We will not stop until this issue is resolved,” Ursabia said.
He added that Irma and the families of the missing crewmen of F/V Liberty 5 were immediately informed of the development.
Following the collision of MV Vienna Wood and FV Liberty 5 that resulted in the sinking of the latter on June 28, the PCG said it filed a criminal complaint based on an investigation and eyewitness accounts of fishermen and other mariners who were first-responders to the incident. (PNA)