Makabayan wants probe on effects of Oriental Mindoro oil spill to environment
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc has filed a resolution urging the appropriate House of Representatives panels to investigate the oil spill near Oriental Mindoro caused by the sunken M/T Princess Empress tanker.
Makabayan bloc lawmakers on Thursday filed House Resolution No. 869 asking the House Committee on natural resources and Committee on aquaculture and fisheries to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation regarding the said issue, as the oil spill now threatens protected natural areas near the said province.
The oil spill was detected in February after the tanker, which was carrying 800,000 liters of oil, sank off Oriental Mindoro.
“Oil from the vessel has reached a radius of 40 kilometers, encroaching on 21 protected areas, including a fish sanctuary. Several coral reefs and mangrove habitats are threatened to be damaged by the oil spill. Also, at least three towns were affected, namely Naujan, Pola, and Pinamalayan,” Makabayan said.
“A report stated that the oil spill had reached Palawan on 08 March 2023 and that it will spread northeast due to the prevailing wind condition […] the oil spill-affected areas are within the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor, which spans 1.4 million hectares and covers Batangas, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, and Romblon. Over 2 million people live along the passage and depend on its resources to live,” they added.
According to the lawmakers — Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel — there should be sanctions against RDC Reield Marine Services, the owner of the MT Princess Empress.
Aside from the proposed Congressional probe in the House, the Senate also started its own investigation on the oil spill issue last Tuesday. Similarly, the Senate probe seeks to know who should be held accountable for the incident while finding ways to address the environmental impact of the oil spill.
Last March 3, House Committee on ways and means chair and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said that he believes the House would grant a request for a supplemental budget to help the national government mitigate the effects of the oil spill while assisting people who depend on the affected waters for livelihood.
As of now, the national government has provided assistance to surrounding communities, releasing over P43 million in terms of aid.