MANILA — The chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources on Monday filed a resolution urging the House of Representatives to look into the sinking of oil tanker (MT) Princess Empress last February 28 in the waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, spilling 800,000 liters of industrialized fuel.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. filed House Resolution No. 829 so the committee can investigate, in aid of legislation, the oil spill which has affected ten municipalities in Oriental Mindoro.
“Additionally, the oil spill might affect 20,000 hectares of coral reef, 9,900 hectares of mangroves, and 6,000 hectares of seagrass and could possibly coat the marine habitats and animals…which can clog the gills of fish and marine invertebrates…damage the feathers of bird and fur of marine mammals,” the resolution said.
The resolution said the oil spill, which has already caused severe damage in Oriental Mindoro, could also reach other coastal islands including Palawan, Antique and Romblon.
The vessel MT Princess Empress is an oil products tanker which is only a year old.
Oceana, an international environment group, earlier called on the government “to immediately implement mechanisms and actions to stop further damage on the marine environment, fisheries resources and livelihood in the affected Verde Island Passage which is the ‘center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world.’”
It also asked the government to “start the investigation and testing on the extent of contamination…immediate assistance of the local fisherfolk dependent on the affected body of water.”
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already announced last Monday that it has found the possible site of the capsized vessel which is about 1,200 feet below sea level, a few days after the DENR deployed the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) BRP Hydrographer Ventura within the area of the oil spill site.
The DENR said the MT is located about northeast of Pola, Oriental Mindoro but it is “believed to have moved southeast from its last known position where it completely submerged.”
The environment department however said it still needs to verify the location by deploying a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) “which will allow us complete visualization should the currents and weather permit.”
“We are now preparing to access an ROV in order to fully determine where the vessel actually is and to completely model the way the oil will be spilling from the vessel,” the DENR said in a statement.