Legarda wants immediate probe on impacts of Mindoro oil spill

March 10, 2023 Camille P. Balagtas 223 views

SENATE President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda called on the concerned Senate committee, with the cooperation of all government agencies, to immediately conduct an inquiry on the environmental, health, and tourism impacts of the recent oil spill in Oriental Mindoro that left a widespread problem to many locals in the area and its neighboring provinces, including Antique, Legarda’s home province.

Legarda expressed concern over the serious detrimental effects of the recent environmental disaster on dozens of designated marine sanctuaries, including thousands of acres of mangroves, reefs, and seagrass beds, the region’s tourism, and the residents’ health, as well.

In a Senate Resolution that she will file, she is urging a “whole-of-government” approach through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and other responsible government agencies, in addressing the adverse effects of the oil spill.

“I call on all our government agencies to implement speedy actions on the harms caused by the recent oil spill to reduce damage to our ecosystems and fishing grounds, to ease off its effects to coastal towns, which are reliant on fishing and tourism for income, and most importantly, to secure our kababayans’ health and safety,” said Legarda.

“It is imperative that we immediately provide the residents with basic needs such as water, food, face masks, and medicines while our local government units (LGUs) and agencies are conducting clean-up activities in the affected areas,” she added.

Legarda further noted the necessity for revisions or review of the Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007, which covers the liabilities of the owner and insurer of the shipping company responsible for the damages committed.

Likewise, she encouraged coastal communities to be apprised of health hazards to safely contribute to containment efforts, preserving evidence and documenting damages during disasters to avail of any reimbursement for clean-up assistance or payment for harm suffered.

Last February 28, around 800,000 liters of industrial oil spilled in the waters near Naujan, Oriental Mindoro after MT Princess Empress capsized and sank off the coast of the said municipality.

This prompted the provincial government to place 77 coastal villages in a state of calamity. The tragedy affected approximately 19,100 families, which disrupted their source of income and posed several health risks.

Based on news reports, the oil spill might affect thousands of hectares of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, and marine protected areas in the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Antique, and Palawan.