Misamis Oriental village execs eye suit vs sunken ship owners over cleanup cost
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Officials of a village in Jasaan town, Misamis Oriental province, are set to sue the owners of a sunken ship that caused an oil spill on their shores early last month.
Sabas Tagarda Jr., village chief of Lower Jasaan, said the ship’s owners, identified as Sherwin Doctora and Lord Sanny Salvaña, had earlier told the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that they would pay for the cost of the oil spill’s cleanup.
However, only P40,000 was given for the effort, divided among five affected villages.
Tagarda said the amount was way short of the actual cost incurred to rid their coasts of the pollutant.
Lower Jasaan alone spent more than P80,000 mainly for the honorarium of volunteers and for food, he said.
“We will file a complaint [before the EMB] at a proper time,” Tagarda said.
MV Tower 1 (formerly MV Racal IV) sank off the municipal waters of Jasaan town on April 4, discharging fuel that affected the coastal villages of Lower Jasaan, Upper Jasaan, Luz Banson, Solana and Kimaya.
The vessel was already inoperable and was ready for scrapping when it sank near a local shipyard in Lower Jasaan.
Tagarda said over 80 percent of the spillage in their village was already collected, facilitating the return to normalcy in the cleaned portions of the coast.
The EMB has assured that the ship’s owners “will pay the expenses incurred in the cleanup operation along with the transport and treatment of the collected oil spill contaminated materials and debris.”
In a previous interview, Petty Officer Second Class Ronald Moncayo, acting chief of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) Marine Environment Protection Force in Misamis Oriental, said the owners could face charges for violating Republic Act No. 9275, or the Clean Water Act.
Moncayo added that prior to the sinking, a salvaging company had asked permission from the PCG to pump out the remaining oil and other fluids inside the boat before the scrapping process.
He said the PCG did not issue the permit as the salvaging company failed to comply with the requirement of installing oil spill booms around the vessel before the pump-out operation.
At least 21 drums of oil and oil-contaminated materials composed of sawdust and sand, and another 21 sacks of oil-contaminated debris were recovered by PCG personnel and volunteers from the spillage area, according to the EMB.
—JIGGER J. JERUSALEM INQ
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