Salceda sure supplemental budget for Mindoro oil spill to get House nod
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda was confident that his fellow lawmakers would not oppose the proposal for supplemental budget to support response efforts to the oil spill from a sunken tanker off Oriental Mindoro.
Salceda in a statement on Friday said they are prepared to propose, tackle, and approve a supplemental budget, as the oil spill now threatens marine life.
An oil spill ensued after MT Princess Empress sank near Naujan town on February 28. The tanker was carrying 800,000 liters of mixed diesel and industrial fuel. Authorities said Thursday that the spillage has already reached the shore of Barangay Buhay in Pola town also in Oriental Mindoro.
“We are prepared to propose and enact a supplemental budget if it comes to that. If the President requests it, we will grant it. This is an event that could have devastating consequences to fish supply and tourism, and it will definitely affect hundreds of thousands of families if it gets out of hand,” Salceda said.
“I don’t think it will face significant resistance in either chamber,” he added. “What I think should happen is, the President assesses the resources within his disposal, and asks Congress for more if he doesn’t have enough in the budget to deal with an event like this.”
Salceda, chairperson of the House committee on ways and means, said the matter is of urgent concern as the area affected by the oil spill is teeming with marine biodiversity, and a candidate for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site.
The lawmaker was also the principal author and chairperson of the House’s appropriations panel when House Bill No. 9358 was passed into law in 2006, in response to the Guimaras Oil Spill. Around P5.4 billion in supplemental funds were allocated by Congress for that incident.
“This is a crisis waiting to unfold if we don’t get to contain this early. That area is very close to the Verde Island Passage, which has been declared as the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity. It is extremely critical for national and global fisheries,” he pointed out.
“The area is even a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, it’s alarming that there are already signs of a large-scale spill,” he added.
“We’ll see what [President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] asks for, if he does. But for now, better treat it as a potential national emergency. If it proves to be not as bad as we fear, that’s good news,” he further said.
As of now, Marcos has assured those affected by the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro that the government is ready to give them aid. — With reports from Meralyn Melitante, trainee