MANILA — Aklan Second District Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. has expressed concern over the alarming effects of the oil spill that resulted from the capsizing of MT Princess Empress Oil tanker on February 28 on the environment, public health, tourism, and livelihood of affected residents in Oriental Mindoro, Antique, Palawan, and other nearby areas.
According to the veteran solon, the MT Princess Empress should be held liable under several international conventions which include the 1992 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1992 CLC), the 1992 International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (1992 FUND), the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.
Under the 1992 CLC, the MT Princess Empress owners are liable for up to P331.3 million subject to computation, and additional liabilities under the IOPC Fund should they fail to comply.
“Beyond clean-ups, we must make an effort to make MT Princess Empress and its owners RDC Reield Marine Services accountable to the government for damaging our tourism industries and marine resources and to the affected communities whose health and livelihood are heavily compromised,” Rep. Haresco said.
Moreover, the economist-legislator also recommended that the insurance company of MT Princess Empress is pursued by the Insurance Commission.
The veteran solon, concerned that Aklan might also be affected by the economic and environmental disaster, has also filed House Resolution No. 842 which seeks to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the recent oil spill and the extent of its damage to marine resources, health tourism, and livelihood.
Based on initial findings, the DENR said approximately 591 hectares of coral reefs, 1,626 hectares of mangroves, and 362 hectares of seagrass or seaweeds can be potentially affected and could impact 21 locally-managed protected areas (LMMPAs).
Experts have already warned that some of the oil may flow northwards to the Verde Island Passage- the globally recognized center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity, by March 16, affecting coastal areas of Calapan, Verde Island, and some parts of Batangas.
“We must employ a whole-of-government approach in seeking for justice, mitigating the devastating effects of the oil spill, and dealing with the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected communities and environmental resources,” Haresco added.