Coroner rules foul play in deaths of 2 Pinoy crewmen in 2012
A New South Wales coroner has ruled foul play in the deaths of two Filipino crewmen aboard coal carrier MV Sage Sagittarius nearly five years after they perished, according to a report by South Morning Herald.
Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said Collado was struck over the head and was either thrown or fell 11 meters down to his death.
On the other hand, no exact cause was determined for Llanto's death as his body was never found, but Freund said he was either thrown overboard or killed and disposed of at a later time.
Collado was reportedly depressed over Llanto's disappearance at the time of the incident.
Freund said it would be "extraordinary coincidence" if Collado and Llanto were not killed by the same person.
A Japanese safety superintendent named Kosaku Monji was also crushed on a conveyor belt while aboard the coal carrier, but his death did not fall under Freund's jurisdiction, the report said.
Crew vs. captain
It said the ship's crew, including Llanto, were planning to report the captain, Venancio Salas, to authorities for alleged physical assaults and maltreatment.
Salas, the SMH report further said, was also accused of perpetuating a culture of "silence and blacklisting" and "harassment and bullying" particularly of messman Jessie Martinez due to his sexuality and junior status.
Salas reportedly admitted to gunrunning but denied having any hand in either of the Filipino's deaths.
The inquiry into the Filipinos' death was slow-going because of the reluctance of most of the crew to cooperate with investigators and the intersection of authorities over the jurisdiction of Collado and Llanto's deaths.
MV Sage Sagittarius is owned by Japanese companies NYK Line and managed by Hachiuma Steamship, but operates under the Panamanian Flag under the "flag of convenience" system which allows ships to operate under Panamanian rules.
The system has long been criticized for allowing unfair labor practices to proliferate.
Dean Summers, International Transport Workers Federation national coordinator, told The Newcastle Herald that the Sage Sagittarius was "a murder ship" and an indictment of the flag of convenience system.
In a statement, NYK said: "We need time to examine the Coroner's findings in detail before commenting further. What we can say is the welfare of our ships' crews is always of the utmost concern to us and we will continue to take all steps to provide a safe working environment." —KBK, GMA News