The last phase of the oil spill cleanup in Oriental Mindoro will be completed within a month, Malacañang announced on Saturday.
Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil made the assurance after the arrival of a dynamic support vessel (DSV), which will be used to siphon the remnants of the 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil from the sunken MT Princess Empress at the Riviera Pier in Subic Bay Freeport Zone on Friday.
The DSV Fire Opal, Garafil said, would finish the last phase of the cleanup, and the operations may take 20 to 30 days.
The vessel will sail from Subic on the night of May 28 and is expected to arrive in Batangas the following day.
It will then proceed to the designated mission area, she added. Citing the report from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu, Garafil said the extraction would be done in 20 to 30 days.
The operations will last a month, if weather conditions are “favorable,” she said, based on a separate report submitted by Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Ariel Nepomuceno.
The DSV was chartered by the Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. and contracted by the Protection and Indemnity Insurance Club (P&I).
In March, President Marcos expressed hope that the cleanup would be done in less than four months.
As of May 10, about 84 percent, or 62.95 km. of the 74.71-km. shoreline affected by the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro province, have
been cleaned up, according to a report transmitted to Mr. Marcos by Department of National Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier this month.
The OCD recorded a total of 6,801 liters of oil waste and 300,603.60 liters of oil-contaminated waste that have been collected through the efforts of various agencies and organizations, according to Galvez’s report.
Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. meanwhile filed House Bill 8354, amending Republic Act 9483 or the Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007, by seeking to increase the penalties of violators and including ship charterers to be held liable for the oil pollution damage in order to better protect our environmental resources and justly compensate affected communities.
“All entities involved in the shipment of large oil tankers that lead to oil spills have the moral and legal obligation to environmental and social damages that may take years to be rehabilitated,” Haresco said.
Almost three months after the capsizing of the MT Princess Empress that resulted in the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro and nearby provinces, livelihood and other economic opportunities in the area remain at a standstill.
According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Philippines is losing P5 million per day due to the fishing ban imposed in several areas affected by the oil spill.
Based on the computation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the owner of MT Princess Empress may be fined at least P471,000 per day from March 1 until the oil spill is fully addressed, due to our existing laws.