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Saturday, May 26

STATEMENT OF THE EMBASSY OF THE PHILIPPINES ON THE SENTENCING OF THE CAPTAIN AND SECOND OFFICER OF THE M/V RENA TAURANGA COURT

Filipino Captain Mauro Balomaga and Second Officer Leonel Relon of the MV Rena were sentenced to seven months imprisonment at the Tauranga court on 25 May 2012 arising from the charges filed against them for the grounding of the MV Rena on the Astrolabe Reef on 5 October 2011.

Since that time, the Embassy continues to extend consular and legal assistance for the Filipino nationals in accordance with obligations under international law and the relevant laws of New Zealand. The shipping company of the Filipino officers provided the lawyers. 

The Embassy coordinated with the lawyers in explaining the legal situation of the Filipino seafarers under New Zealand laws and International Maritime Organization (IMO) convention.

After due consideration of the legal advice, the two Filipinos pleaded guilty to the charges on 29 February 2012. The Philippine Embassy appreciates the observance of the judicial process and respect for human rights from the time Captain Balomaga and Second Officer Relon were detained and throughout the legal proceedings. 

The two officers acknowledged the humane and fair treatment extended to them by the New Zealand authorities in accordance with New Zealand laws and practice, the sustained support of their employers to them and their families in the Philippines, the invaluable assistance and advice of the Philippine Embassy and their lawyers, the care and compassion shown to them by the Filipinos and the understanding and concern of the local communities during this difficult period. An officer of the Philippine Embassy was present during the sentencing today and will continue to provide the necessary assistance to the two officers. 

The Philippine shipping and ship manning industries are learning from the lessons of M/V Rena and are taking the appropriate corrective measures and preventive actions. The Philippines was invited to participate in the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAlC) last February and provided the necessary information to address safety concerns. The Philippines will continue to work closely with TAlC to ensure that the lessons learned from MV Rena's unfortunate and isolated accident are translated into measures to enhance the safety of lives and property at sea especially for ships manned by Filipino seafarers sailing in this region. 

In this regard, the relevant agencies in the Philippines such as the Maritime Industry Authority, which is the Administration for the Standards, Training Certificate and Watchkeeping (STCW) matters, the Commission on Higher Education and the Professional Regulations Commission are doing their part to further strengthen appropriate training, safety and preventive measures in accordance with the regulations and