MANILA – (2nd UPDATE) Coastal residents reported signs of oil spill reaching the shores of Cordova, Cebu following the capsizing of a 2GO passenger vessel last Friday night.
In an interview with radio dzMM Sunday morning, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said they noticed the oil spill since Saturday night, adding that the oil spill is already affecting some residents.
Out of the 13 barangays of the municipality of Cordova, 11 of them, all coastal barangays, are now affected by the oil spill coming from the sunken ship, MV Thomas Aquinas.
Sitoy, together with the Marine Watchers, inspected the affected areas Sunday morning and saw the damage on the town's primary means of livelihood, which is fishing.
According to Sitoy, all the fishermen in their town came back home bringing fish, shells, and other sea produce, which are all coated with oil. He identified Barangay Gabi as the most affected area. Sitoy fears that their number one seafood delicacy, eels or locally known as "bakasi," will all die from the oil spill.
"All of our fishermen went home with their boats all covered with crude oil. All their catch can't be eaten or sold. We will go hungry with this," said Sitoy.
According to the mayor, there must be a lapse in the management of 2GO, noting that the oil spill should have been contained only if the sunken ship had oil spill dispersant on board with it. He explained that all ships are mandated to carry with them containment boom that will float to dissolve oil, whenever such tragedy happens.
Sitoy had already tapped a private company, the Greener Products and General Services, to help them clear their waters from oil spill. But he said that the payment for their services should come from 2GO.
Sitoy said that he will bring this up to Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III for possible arrangement with 2GO, which, he said, must be acted immediately to prevent further damage.
Glen Cortes, the owner of Greener Products and General Services, said they have oil spill absorbent pads that can be bought at P185 per piece depending on the thickness of the pad needed. He said these pads are made of polypropylene and are environment friendly.
"These pads will be floated in the affected area and all they do for hours is to absorb only the oil not the water," Cortes said.
The town is hoping for a positive response on the matter.
Sitoy admitted that their city does not have enough budget to administer a cleanup drive, thus they are asking for the national government’s assistance.
Aside from the oil spill in the coastal barangays of Cordova, oil sheen has also reached the shores of Lapu-Lapu City.
The Philippine Coast Guard, meanwhile, has yet to check the extent of the damage caused by the oil spill.
Cebu Coast Guard Station Commander Weniel Azcuna identified that the oil leak is coming from the 20 tons of diesel and 120 tons of banker fuel inside the vessel. Azcuna hopes the 120 tons of fuel banker will not rapture or leak massively.
But he said that they have yet to contact aerial inspection to check the affected areas.
For his part, Commodore William Melad of the Philippine Coast Guard in Central Visayas said that if the sea conditions permit, they will install the oil spill boom around the sunken ship, adding that divers were already tasked to search for the leak in the ship and to possibly plug it to prevent more oil from coming out.
Melad said their move earlier was to spray chemical dispersant around the area to prevent further spreading of oil.
Melad also acknowledged the efforts of 2GO, which hired the Malasia-based oil spill expert, Malayan Towage to help control the oil spill.
The town of Cordova assigned marine watchers to stay and check the damage of Cordova shores on the oil spillage. They are assigned to coordinate with the Cordova Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard announced that there will be an aerial inspection before noon to check and trace oil leaks. - Reports from Joy Montero and Carine M. Asutilla, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas, and Dexter Ganibe, dzMM