The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday clarified that the sunken motor tanker Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil and not 800,000 as earlier reported.
"Nine hundred [thousand] po doon sa kanilang declaration," PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo told Dobol B TV, correcting earlier reports that the motor tanker was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil.
Despite this, MT Princess Empress was still not overloaded when in sank in late February and caused an oil spill, according to Balilo.
"Base po doon sa pagsusuri sa weight ng barko at saka doon sa capacity niya ay hindi naman po siya overloaded," he said.
(Based on the assessment on its weight and capacity, MT Princess Empress was not overloaded.)
Balilo said they are still waiting for the result of the investigation if the sinking of MT Princess Empress was caused by neglect or a case of force majeure.
Meanwhile, Department of National Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said in his report to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that at least 169 individuals were reported to have been injured or fell ill due to the oil spill.
He added that the national government and the private sector have provided around P43 million worth of assistance to 74 affected areas in Mimaropa and Western Visayas.
A total of 894 sacks of oil contaminated debris and 77.5 drums of waste for treatment have been collected so far in shoreline clean-up activities.
MT Princess Empress sank due to strong waves on February 28. All 20 people on board were rescued. The PCG said the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach.
On Wednesday, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said a total of 31,497 families in MIMAROPA and Western Visayas were affected by the oil spill. The livelihood of 13,654 farmers and fishermen was also affected, it added.
A total of P23.9 million worth of assistance, coming from the government and non-government organizations, has been provided to the affected residents.
Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor earlier said 122 residents in the province became sick because of the effects of the oil spill. Some of them had respiratory-related symptoms, while others experienced vomiting and diarrhea.
He said only 13 out of the 77 areas placed under state of calamity have direct contact with the spill.
Citing the projection of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Sunday said the oil spill could reach northern Palawan mainland and threaten over 36,000 hectares of marine habitats. —KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News