Pola mayor welcomes charges vs. owner of tanker behind oil spill
MANILA – The mayor of Pola town in Oriental Mindoro is thankful that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended the filing of charges against the owner of MT Princess Empress, which sunk and caused an oil spill in the waters off the province.
“Kahit ito po ay hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang kahihinatnan, the fact na nairekomenda na ng NBI sa (Department of Justice), sobrang nagpapasalamat tayo kasi magkakaroon ng katarungan,” said Mayor Jennifer “Ina Alegre” Cruz.
“Hindi pa tapos ‘no pero nandoon na, narekomenda na at thankful tayo talaga kasi antagal nating pinaglalaban natin ito, kasuhan na, kasi para malaman talaga natin sino yung nagkaroon ng problema, and magkaroon naman sila ng responsibilidad na gawin yugn tama para sa ating karagatan.”
“Ito na yung chance siguro namin na maipakita na dapat magkaroon na talaga ng kaso yung ating mga ireresponsible na naglalayag,” she added.
The MT Princess Empress ran aground off the coast of Pola, Oriental Mindoro on February 28. It was carrying some 800,000 liters of industrial oil as cargo and fuel.
The oil spill has so far left P58.137 million worth of damage and losses to fisheries, affected more than 27,500 fisherfolk, and caused 15 local government units to declare a state of calamity.
More than 42,000 families have been affected from over 100 affected areas in Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Antique, and Batangas.
Cruz said the oil spill has yet to cleaned up in some barangays in Pola.
“Tatlong barangay pa ang nililinis natin, more or less, nasa 50 percent pa lang ng paglilinis ng shoreline doon sa ating 3 barangay. The rest, nasa 80 pct. pa lang yung ibang linis, iba 90 pct., yung iba 100 pct.,” she explained.
Nonetheless, she said they are still waiting for the advice of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on when their fishermen can go back to shore.
Cruz also said they are doing their best to help fishermen find alternative sources of livelihood.
“Right now yung ating mga mangingisda, yung iba nag-apply ng construction, yung iba naman may nag-donate ng sewing machine , guamgwa sila ng basahan ngayon,” she said.
“Yung iba naman nagtanim ng mga gulay, and siguro sa tagal na, three months na--araw na ‘to ay three months sakto--mukhang tutubo na,” she added.
--TeleRadyo, 7 June 2023