MANILA — The cost of damage due to the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro has reached over P3.88 billion, with the number of affected families rising to around 40,000, the country's disaster response monitoring agency said Thursday.
The estimated cost of damage included production losses among some 24,000 fisherfolk and farmers, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in a report.
Fishermen have been ordered to stay ashore in several areas while the oil spill cleanup is ongoing.
Mimaropa accounted for the bulk of the cost of damage at around P3.75 billion, while the rest was recorded in Calabarzon and Western Visayas.
"'Yan ay running [tally] hanggang sa mayroon pa pong langis na tumatagas pa," Diego Agustin Mariano, head of the Office of Civil Defense's joint information center, said during a televised briefing.
(That is a running tally while the oil is still leaking.)
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) earlier said the fisheries sector loses around P19 million daily as the oil spill damage drags on.
The NDRRMC report also said 40,897 families or 193,436 individuals were affected by the oil spill caused by a tanker that went down in rough seas on Feb. 28.
The government, local authorities and non-government organizations have provided P140 million worth of assistance to affected residents, the social welfare department said in a separate statement.
The Philippine Coast Guard earlier said that the oil spill leakage from MT Princess Empress was "significantly controlled."
The Department of Natural Resources (DENR), for its part, hoped the oil spill could be fully controlled "within the month." Its impact analysis on the spill's ecological damage is ongoing.
The government estimates at least 4,000 hectares of coral reefs, seaweed and mangroves have been affected.
Mangroves can suffocate if oil covers their roots, while corals -- breeding grounds for many fish species -- can die or struggle to grow and reproduce if exposed.
Oil has been found as far away as the western island of Palawan, more than 350 kilometers from where the tanker went down.
Some oil has also drifted north to the Verde Island Passage, between Mindoro and the Philippines' main island of Luzon.
The passage is near the top of the Coral Triangle, an area of water spanning down to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor that is called the "Amazon of the Seas" because of its rich marine life.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse
Video from PTV