Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged concerned authorities to take necessary and immediate actions to address the oil spill incident in Oriental Mindoro caused by the capsizing of MT Princess Empress, stressing the immense damage it causes to affected communities.
“Dapat po ay managot ang may-ari ng vessel. Hindi pwedeng i-asa mo sa gobyerno lahat ng paglinis ng mga coastal areas na ‘yan. Ilang pamilya po ang magugutom diyan, ‘yung mga umaasa sa huli ng isda, umaasa sa pangkabuhayan ng pangingisda at ilan pong mga kababayan natin ang naapektuhan ang kalusugan,” underscored Go in an ambush interview after he personally led a relief operation in Romblon, Romblon on Thursday, 16 March .
MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel, sank in the waters off the coast of Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro on February 28.
Maritime Industry Authority earlier claimed that the oil tanker had no authority to operate as the application for its amended Certificate of Public Convenience was still pending. However, PCG belied this. Either way, Go urged the ship owners to take full responsibility for the incident regardless if they had a permit or not.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the oil spill has also already affected the provinces of Palawan and Antique.
“Kapag may isang portion lang po ng oil d’yan (sa dagat) na lumulutang ay madumi na po at delikado po sa ating health kung pumasok ito sa ating katawan o malanghap natin. Lalo na po ito, buong coastline ng island of Oriental Mindoro ang tinamaan ng oil spill. Kita n‘yo ‘yung mga bato nangitim, mga buhangin, pati ang tubig, pati isda, pati nalalanghap na preskong hangin noon, ngayon ay wala na,” cited Go in a separate ambush interview during his visit in Taytay, Rizal on 14 March .
Emphasizing the adverse impact of the incident on the economy, particularly on local industries such as fisheries, tourism, and recreation, Go urged the government to expedite the clean up operations and other interventions, saying, “Para sa akin po, bilisan po ang government intervention, magtulungan po tayo. Nandiyan na po ‘yan, kaya nga po nagtatrabaho ang ating coast guard, nagtatrabaho po ang mga LGUs (local government units).”
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, more than 2,000 hectares of coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass are estimated to be potentially affected by the oil spill.
Meanwhile, the senator shared that he was able to discuss with Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor and Pola town Mayor Jennifer Cruz separately the situation in their localities particularly the almost hundred thousand residents who have been affected, especially in the town of Pola.
Governor Dolor likewise said that there are more than a hundred residents who went ill because of the oil spill, some of them suffering from vomiting and diarrhea while others having respiratory problems.
“Ako naman bilang senador, handa po akong tumulong sa mga kababayan natin lalo na ang mga apektado, ‘yung mga kababayan nating isang kahig, isang tuka, ‘yung mahihirap na walang makain po dahil apektado dito sa oil spill,” Go reassured.
“Dapat po hindi maulit ito at mapapanagot kung sino ang dapat managot, sinong may kasalanan. Dapat po maagapan at hindi umabot sa iba pang island o probinsya itong oil spill,” he added.
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