PCG says Pola local gov’t eyeing suit due to oil spill | Inquirer News

PCG says Pola local gov’t eyeing suit due to oil spill

DOH says one Mindoro resident admitted to hospital for shortness of breath

This photo from the Philippine Coast Guard shows the oil spill that followed the sinking of MT Princess Empress in the waters off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro province early Tuesday morning, February 28, 2023. PCG photo

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the municipal government of Pola in Oriental Mindoro would pursue legal actions against the owner, operator or insurer of the sunken fuel tanker in proper courts or administrative agencies due to the damage from the oil spill.

The PCG said the town would create Task Force Pola to study the appropriate charges.


Pola Mayor Jennifer Cruz said that apart from the temporary suspension of fishing activities in the province, the tourism industry in her town also saw a decline after the oil spill reached some of their beaches.


MT Princess Empress, which carried 800,000 liters of industrial oil, capsized in the waters off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro on February 28 and sank the following day after experiencing engine trouble.

The spill has affected coastal areas of Oriental Mindoro and Caluya town in Antique province.

In an online press conference on Thursday, Ram Joseph Temeña of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in Oriental Mindoro, said Pola was the worst hit as 11 barangays reported sightings of the oil spill in their shoreline.

Temeña told a virtual press conference that nine out of 15 towns in Oriental Mindoro had been affected by the spill while 18 people reportedly got sick due to inhalation of toxic fumes.

The PCG said the shoreline cleanup team in Pola “observed minimal traces and patches of oil along the shorelines with a 3-kilometer length area covered. They also noted patches of oil floating on the surface of the water.”

READ: Location of sunken MT Princess Empress identified, says Oriental Mindoro gov


PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armando Balilo earlier admitted it would be difficult for responders to conduct salvage operations because the vessel sank 400 meters deep in the sea. The PCG has been installing booms in the waters off Naujan as part of its containment and recovery operations.Cleanup help

In a statement on Thursday, the PCG said a team from the Japanese Coast Guard was expected to be deployed in the country to assist in the oil spill response operations, particularly in Naujan town.

“According to Ambassador of Japan in the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa, Japan will send a disaster relief expert team on oil removal and control to augment the country’s manpower and assets,” it said.

On Wednesday, the PCG met with Oriental Mindoro Gov. Humerlito Dolor to discuss updates on the response operations.“The officials have agreed to hire one person per family in all affected coastal municipalities under the cash-for-work program,” the PCG said.

A simultaneous shoreline cleanup will be conducted in different areas in Oriental Mindoro on Friday.

Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc. said it secured a contract with the vessel owner on March 7 for the “deployment of manpower and resources for shoreline cleanup and oily waste disposal.”

Deja vu

Danny Ocampo, senior campaign manager of the conservation group Oceana, said the incident was like a “deja vu” of the Guimaras oil spill in 2006.

“I saw people before in Guimaras na tinatabo-tabo yung (using dippers to scoop the) oil with no personal protection equipment and I saw that again in Pola and here we are 10 days since the spill but there’s still no clear way to contain it,” he said.

“We salute government agencies for doing their part but we think there’s not enough information available for preparedness. People in Antique are reaching out to Oceana and maybe other NGOs (nongovermental organizations): ‘What should we do in case the oil reaches our shores?’” he said.

READ: Over 24,000 hectares of coral reef at risk following Mindoro oil spill

Libertad, Antique Mayor Mary Jean Te, in the same press conference, said coastal communities were concerned that the oil spill would reach their area and would impact on local livelihood and marine biodiversity.

The PCG, however, said it found no trace of fresh oil drifting in the waters off Caluya, Antique, where the spill reached three coastal villages earlier.

No “significant landing of oil” had been observed along the shorelines since March 8, said Commander Jansen Benjamin, public information officer of the PCG Western Visayas District.

But Benjamin said the danger remained that MT Princess Empress would release all its cargo unless the sunken tanker was properly assessed.

Environmental groups Oceana, Greenpeace Philippines, and the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development called for transparency from the national government on the real extent of the damage caused by the spill.

READ: Oil spill puts 8 more towns in Oriental Mindoro in calamity state

“More importantly, there must be accountability from the companies involved, especially the owner of the cargo. They must pay for the immediate and long-term damages their business operations have caused, especially in the disruption of livelihoods and access to ecosystem services,” said Greenpeace campaigner Jeff Chua.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Fernando Hicap, chair of the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, said the government must come up with a contingency plan “for any potential ecological disaster” caused by potential fish kills following the massive oil spill.

TAGS: Mindoro, oil spill, Philippine Coast Guard

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.