Against all odds, the Louisiana law suit survives over 20 years since it was filed in 1988. As part of the conditional dismissal by the Louisiana trial court, the families were given an opportunity to file a case in the Philippines.
Caltex and Steamship Mutual are multi-nationals that consider it almost a right to do business around the world. However, Cal-tex in particular, viewed it almost as an insult to be sued in their home country of the United States.
As it approaches its 23rd anniversary, on December 20, 2010, the law suits against Cal-Tex has transformed into a crusade for justice. Caltex, which has now morphed into Chevron, to avoid being identified with this unfinished story, has never acknowledged its role in the fiery death of nearly all the passengers of the “Doña Paz”.
We must never forget that without the cargo of fuel being transported by the oil tanker “Vector”, there would not have been a catastrophic loss of life. Caltex, which owned the cargo of fuel, selected the oil tanker “Vector”, and maintained the oil tanker “Vector”, has refused to acknowledge any responsibility for this catastrophic loss of life, and pay compensation to the victims’ families. The latest Sulpicio sinking of the “Princess of the Stars” only resulted in hundreds of deaths. It was the fuel in “Vector” which caused deaths in the thousands.
A large part of the fight since 1999 has been, to which court will our clients be entitled to tell their story against Caltex and litigate their claim for damages. In lawyer’s parlance, the argument between our clients and Caltex and Steamship Mutual, has been which court has jurisdiction. Is it the courts in the U.S.A or the courts of the Philippines. In other words where does the litigation take place, and 20 years on we still do not have an answer, largely due to the efforts of Caltex and Steamship Mutual.
There is no ending yet to this tragic story which is mired in the U.S. and Philippine courts, but our team of lawyers are not giving up. Hopefully one day, this crusade for justice will reach its conclusion and the dead and the living who continue to live with this tragedy, will get relief.