Hontiveros wants PCG, Marina execs held liable for Mindoro oil spill
MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) should be held accountable for their “negligence and nonfeasance” in the massive oil spill that started off the coast of Oriental Mindoro, said Senator Risa Hontiveros.
Hontiveros made the statement on Friday after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed a witness’ claim that MT Princess Empress–the tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel that capsized in waters near Najun town on Feb. 28 due to engine trouble–was “rebuilt scrap.”
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police have already been tapped to look into the allegation, according to Remulla.
READ: DOJ taps NBI, PNP to probe claim that MT Princess Empress is a rebuilt scrap
“PCG officials who directly allowed this ‘scrap ship’ to depart from Bataan on February 27, 2023 – despite not meeting all requirements in the PCG’s own pre-departure checklist – should face the full brunt of the law. They should answer not only for this incident but also for the alleged eight other times that the scrap ship had been allowed to sail,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
She also called to hold responsible Marina officials who had green-lighted the ship to operate even if it was not “sea-worthy” should it be found that the supposed half-century-old vessel was “not refurbished according to the standards.”
It must also be confirmed if the certificate of public convenience of the owner of MT Princess Empress, RDC Reield Marine Services, was amended to cover the sunken oil tanker, Hontiveros added.
The lawmaker then expressed trust that the Senate panel on the environment, natural resources, and climate change, chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar, will be able to commit to holding to account the PCG and Marina officials responsible for the “environmental nightmare.”
Marine experts from the University of the Philippines–Diliman College of Science Marine Science Institute had earlier warned that over 24,000 hectares of coral reef are threatened as the spill spreads due to strong winds and waves.
READ: Oil spill in Oriental Mindoro threatens Verde Island Passage
At least 143,713 people or 31,497 families across 122 barangays were affected by the oil disaster, while the livelihood of some 13,654 fisherfolk had also been hampered.
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