PCG: Oil spill from Mindoro has reached Palawan town

By Maria Tividad 

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District in Palawan has confirmed the oil spill from MT Princess Empress that sank off the coast of Naujan town, Oriental Mindoro last February has reached two barangays in northern Taytay town in Palawan.

PCG-Palawan District Commander, Capt. Dennis Rem Labay, said the  presence of oil spill was detected in the island barangay of Casian on March 10 and Calawag last March 12. He said they have collected at least 300 liters of industrial oil from the two areas since March 10.

A Powerpoint presentation recently shared by Labay with reporters  showed the collected 100 liters of oil along 1.5 kilometers of shoreline in Casian and the estimated 200 liters from the 50-meter shoreline of Sitio Amogis in Barangay Calawag. The video also showed about 100 meters of seaweed plantation affected by the oil slick.

Labay and some of his personnel are currently in Taytay to oversee the inspection and bring oil spill response equipment. “From what we see in the area, the oil spill and its effect is so far very minimal,” he said.

PCG-Palawan together with the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Office, Taytay Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and other concerned agencies are also continuously conducting coastal monitoring and maritime patrol operations to check possible oil spillage in other areas of the town.

In Oriental Mindoro, families in a fishing community in Barangay Navotas, Calapan City, have started making improvised spill booms as a preventive measure for the oil spill that threatens to reach the city’s shores from the nearby town of Naujan.

“We continue to monitor the sea. The Coast Guard and our fisherfolk’s boats are ready to place the spill booms,” said Calapan City Mayor Malou Morillo in an interview on Wednesday afternoon as they continued to encourage communities to make the spill booms.

On Sunday, the University of the Philippines–Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) announced that the oil spill could reach Calapan shores, the Verde Island Passage and Batangas province once the northeast monsoon ends.

“We are worried about losing our livelihood,” said Rolando Magbanua, 52, whose family is helping make improvised spill booms from empty bottles and rice straws.

Mark Gil Marasigan, 19, has also joined those making the spill booms. “Fishing is our family’s source of income. Even selling fish has slowed down because people are scared, even if there is still no fishing ban and authorities say Calapan waters are still safe,” he said.

Barangay Navotas is close to Naujan where the oil spill started after MT Princess Empress, an oil tanker, ran aground on February 28 and eventually sank the following day with 800,000 liters of industrial oil. Morillo said they are doing their best to protect Calapan City.

“We have a volunteer who specializes in oil spill and there is also a Japanese team that visited Pola that will help Mindoro,” she said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon. Currently, they continue appealing for donations of spill boom materials like empty plastic bottles, nylon and ropes, Morillo said.

Meanwhile, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, service director of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan (AVC), conveyed the diocese’s willingness to provide cash assistance to the communities that are hardest hit by the oil spill. 

The towns of Pola, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, and Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro were earlier placed under a state of calamity due to the damage caused by the oil spill and to help those affected by the disaster. (With PNA)