MANILA (UPDATE) — The International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Funds on Tuesday vowed to offer settlements to all those affected by the oil spill caused by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress off the coast of Oriental Mindoro.
During the fourth meeting of the inter-agency task force on the oil spill at the Department of Justice (DOJ), IOPC Funds Director Gaute Siversten said his organization had finished a fact-finding mission and would report its findings to its head office in London.
Siversten said they were hoping to compensate the victims in affected areas, as well as the government for the cost of the clean-up operation.
“Right now, we are collecting claims forms from the victims, to be assessed by the experts, to concentrate on fisherfolk and those who are most in need and then we will offer settlements as soon as possible,” Sivertsen said.
Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez, who presided over the meeting, noted that there were roughly 300,000 liters of industrial fuel still inside the sunken vessel.
Vasquez also said compensation claims, mostly from ordinary Filipinos affected by the oil spill, were still being gathered.
“That is what the compensation caravan is for. The compensation caravan is the vehicle or the mode by which all claimants will come forward and present their claim,” he added.
According to its website, the IOPC Funds provide compensation for oil pollution damage from tankers in member states.
May Valles, representative of insurer P&I, also assured the task force that the remaining oil inside the vessel would be removed, but the mode of removal would have to be determined first.
“The extraction of the remaining oil... it’s just a matter of studying the methodology at the moment,” Valles said.
Some 178,000 people have been affected by the oil spill, which has been going on since the Princess Empress went down in rough seas on Feb. 28, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.
The cost of damage and losses due to the spill was estimated at nearly P1 billion, according to data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
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