accused of deceiving ferry victims' kin
> MANILA -- Sulpicio Lines could be in bigger trouble if proven that it is behind the deployment of persons urging the families of ferry tragedy victims to give them a blank Special Power of Attorney (SPA) to collect from the shipping company.
...Sulpicio is the owner of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars, which sank on June 21 off Sibuyan Island in Romblon Province.
...PAO chief Persida Rueda Acosta earlier said that some of the complainants were being coerced by Sulpicio to sign blank SPA forms without identifying the lawyers who will be representing the claimants.
Justice Secretary Gonzalez said that if the SPAs were indeed a ploy of Sulpicio
to evade payment of compensation, they could be in bad faith and would reflect in any future case for damages that may be filed against them.He
added that lawyers who are negotiating with the victims' families to sign SPAs also run the risk of being charged with malpractice and violation of legal ethics tenets.
The justice secretary meantime said it is not in the best interest of the country for the government to totally stop the operations of Sulpicio
as it could have a serious economic effect.
The shipping industry earlier informed the government that taking over the shipping company would paralyze cargo operations.
Under emergencies, the government may take over the firm as it was duly backed by congressional authority to do so under Republic Act (RA) 9295, or the Domestic Shipping Law.
"The President doesn't want to run private businesses as much as possible, but for safety purposes we will start only with the cargo vessels of Sulpicio
because there is a serious danger that without the ships of Sulpicio
, we will run short of shipping to carry cargo," he