MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday conducted an aerial inspection to assess the extent of damage caused by the oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress in Mindoro.
The assessment was followed by a situation briefing with local chief executives in Pola, Oriental Mindoro where he coordinated further response needed between national government agencies and the affected towns in Mimaropa, Western Visayas, and Calabarzon.
Apart from the inspection, Marcos also led the distribution of various government assistance to 1,200 beneficiaries, including fisherfolk and residents of Pola.
The Chief Executive turned over 17 fishing boats with engines to Oriental Mindoro, seven of which are for Pola; a unit of post-harvest technology package (fish-smoking technology) worth PHP335,739 to the Maasin Marine Protected Area Association in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro; a unit of 65 HP tractor with implements to the Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro; three units of pump and engine to Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro and Mahabang Parang Farmers Association in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; and six water pumps for the municipalities of Pola, Naujan, and Pinamalayan in Oriental Mindoro.
Aside from machinery, agricultural inputs were also distributed, including 2.5 kg. of assorted vegetable seeds, 10 bags of black rice, two bags of brown rice, 300 bags of certified palay seeds, and 300 corn seeds to the local government of Pola.
Marcos has so far distributed PHP98.6 million worth of food packs to the affected residents.
To date, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) distributed 140,728 family food packs out of 187,140 kits delivered to the province in tranches.
The more than 46,000 other food packs are scheduled for the 7th and 8th distribution schedules.
Oriental Mindoro municipalities that received government aid include Baco, Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Calapan City, Gloria, Naujan, Mansalay, Pinamalayan, Pola, Roxas, San Teodoro, Socorro, and Victoria.
The DSWD is also carrying out a cash-for-work program in the government cleanup operations in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
As of posting, more than 25,000 families in 14 towns are engaged in the program, with a total budget allocation of PHP190.1 million, said the DSWD.
Among the activities being undertaken are the oil spill cleanup along the coastlines under the guidance of the DENR, land clearing for a communal garden, establishment of barangay and background gardening, hauling and handling family food packs, and cleanup and desilting of canals for flood prevention.
Data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) showed more than 26,000 fisherfolk were directly affected by the oil spill.
The damage in terms of inputs and produce, fishing gears and paraphernalia, facilities, and equipment amounted to PHP445.3 million.
These include fisheries production losses from the Mimaropa Commercial and Municipal Fisheries valued at PHP14.1 million and damage to 119 metric tons (MT) of seaweed production facilities in Western Visayas valued at almost PHP3 million.
The BFAR has provided technical support by analyzing water and seafood for contaminants and formulating science-based recommendations on fishing bans.
It also initiated livelihood interventions, as well as food and relief assistance to protect the public from hazards caused by the spill.
In ongoing cleanup operations, the BFAR has deployed PHP720,945 worth of PPE (personal protective equipment) sets, ropes, and other materials to coastal communities in Oriental Mindoro.
Aside from active participation in the inter-agency habitat and rapid assessment initiatives, the BFAR supports the Mindoro spill response through its monitoring, control, and surveillance vessels. (PNA)