The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in the Philippines will provide free legal aid to the families of those who drowned when Kim-Nirvana B sank on July 2.
This is a worsening of the legal position of the vessel owners who have been charged with murder following the disaster that has claimed 61 lives.
“PAO Ormoc District office is now ready to give free legal aid,” PAO chief attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta said in a report carried by the official Philippines News Agency (PNA).
The District Office of PAO in Ormoc City, close to where the tragedy took place is doing the affidavits of loss for the families, PNA also reported Acosta as saying.
Acosta also noted that the Philippines National Police (PNP) has filed murder charges against the owner and crew of the capsized ferry.
“A total of 19 people were charged; including ferry operator Jorge Bong Zarco, ship captain Warren Oliviero, and 17 crew members,” PNA added.
Murder carries a 40-year imprisonment in the Philippines.
There will be two investigations into the disaster; the police investigation, and a separate coast guard inquiry, to determine the accident’s cause.
Search-and-rescue operations for missing passengers of the ferry continued into the weekend, PNA reported.
Coast Guard District Eastern Visayas head Pedro Tinampay told PNA the tentative death toll was 61.