Oriental Mindoro town mayor turns down aid from owner of sunken tanker amid oil spill
MANILA, Philippines — The mayor of Pola municipality in Oriental Mindoro province has rejected the help being offered by the owner of MT Princess Empress, which sank and caused a massive oil spill now affecting several towns and threatening marine life.
For Mayor Jennifer Cruz, the bid to extend aid is overdue.
According to Fritzee Tee, vice president of vessel owner RDC Reield Marine Services, they asked Cruz about the needs of affected residents in her municipality but were declined.
READ: Oil spill in Oriental Mindoro threatens Verde Island Passage
“We specifically asked what they need, during that time, on their data on what the people kung ano po ‘yung pinaka-kailangan nila. Ang sabi po sa akin is ayaw po nila tumanggap ng tulong mula sa amin,” Tee said during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate committee on environment, natural resources and climate change.
(We specifically asked what they need, during that time, on their data on what the people need. They said that they do not want to accept help from us.)
READ: PCG says Pola local gov’t eyeing suit due to oil spill
But Cruz rebutted Tee: “Sabi ko po sa kanila, ‘ilatag ninyo for us.’ ‘Yung tulong ninyo na binibigay is mga bigas, mga ganu’n, pero hindi ninyo sinasabi sa’min ‘yung clear na plano ninyo for Pola, du’n sa mga damages and all that.”
(I told them, “lay your plan for us.” The help you are giving us are rice and the like but there is no clear plan on addressing the damages in Pola and all that.)
“Hindi na po kasi bumalik sa’kin. After that, ang tagal kong naghihintay sa kanila for nine days… Never silang nag-reply sa amin. Pinapatayan kami ng phone,” she added.
(There was no call back. After that, I waited for nine days. They never replied to us. They declined calls.)
Cruz also said that the firm reached out to them after they spoke about the matter on national television, and that she already refused the help offer because several of her constituents were then getting sick and affected.
READ: More fall ill due to spill; oil slick reaches Palawan
“Sabi ko, ‘hindi ko tatanggapin ngayon kasi why now?’ Kasi sobrang tagal naming naghihintay sa inyo. Ang tagal naming naghihintay. Marami nang nagkasakit. Marami nang naapektuhan, walang tulong,” she lamented.
(I said, “I will not accept that because why now?” We waited for so long. Many people got sick. Many were affected but there was no help.)
MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 of industrial fuel, sank on February 28 off the coast of Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro province. Subsequently, the oil spill ensued.
READ: Oil spill ensues after vessel carrying 800,000 liters of oil sinks in Oriental Mindoro
Since then, at least 77 coastal villages in Oriental Mindoro were placed under a state of calamity. Oriental Mindoro Gov. Humerlito Dolor said around 20,000 families or 102,000 individuals are affected by the oil spill.
On March 10, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that the oil spill has reached the shores of Palawan. It has moved to Western Visayas, too, specifically off the island town of Caluya in Antique.
Sunken oil tanker MT Princess Empress finally located
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