Photo courtesy of Change.org
MANILA — Agri Party-list Representative Wilbert T. Lee demanded that the owners of a tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel that sank off Oriental Mindoro and caused an oil spill be held accountable for damaging the country’s vital marine resources.
“Kailangang mapanagot ang mga may-ari ng MT Princess Empress. Mahahalagang protected area ang nasa panganib dahil sa oil spill, kaya’t kailangang maghabol ang pamahalaan para sa containment, cleanup, at rehabilitation ng mga maaapektuhang area,” Lee said.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the oil spill, which already spans several kilometers, could affect 21 marine protected areas.
The agency’s Biodiversity Management Bureau mapped out potential risk areas, which include seagrass beds, mangroves, and dispersion pathways for spawned fish larvae.
The DENR also reported that they have created a task force to respond to the oil spill.
Concerns have also been raised that the oil spill could threaten the important and already fragile Verde Island Passage, which scientists consider the center of marine biodiversity in the world.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard, which leads response operations in the affected area, said it will install spill booms to protect important areas
The PCG similarly formed a task force and conducted water sampling in the towns of Naujan, Pola, and Pinamalayan.
Lee said that besides its adverse impact on the environment, the oil spill would affect the livelihood of fishermen working in the contaminated areas.
“Manganganib ang kabuhayan ng maraming mangingisda sa Mindoro at sa iba pang lalawigan na nakapalibot sa kontaminadong dagat.”
“Sa panahon na pahirap nang pahirap ang buhay, gutom ang aabutin ng pamilya ng mga ito kung hindi sila makakapagtrabaho,” Lee said.
The lawmaker also appealed to the government to provide aid and temporary employment to fisherfolk who would be forced to cease work by the oil spill.
“Nakikiusap tayo sa pamahalaan na kasabay ng pagpapanagot sa mga responsable sa oil spill at pag-limita ng pinsala, sa lalong madaling panahon ay bigyan din ng ayuda at pansamantalang trabaho ang mga mangingisdang apektado ng oil spill,” Lee said. (Ismael Amigo)