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Japanese ROV to be used at Mindoro oil spill arrives in the Philippines

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to be used to check the condition and contain the oil leak from the sunken MT Princess Empress arrived in the Philippines from Japan on Monday.

According to Cedric Castillo’s report on “24 Oras", the ROV contracted by RDC Rield Marine Services — the operating company of the sunken motor tanker off Najuan, Oriental Mindoro— was in Batangas province.

It was set to check on the condition of the motor tanker but still needs to undergo customs and documentary processes before it would be allowed to be deployed.

“Wala sa usapan ‘yung i-aangat ang barko. Ang parang pinag-uusapan doon initially kung may butas, i-patch muna at i-siphon yung langis. Kaya dapat sa lalong madaling panahon, lahat ng paraan magawa,” Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said.

(We never discussed raising the ship. We only talked about patching the hole and siphoning the oil. We need to take all actions as soon as possible.)

MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel.

The latest report from the PCG said the oil reached Verde Island in Batangas City, which is considered to be the world’s center of biodiversity.

Earlier in the day, the US Coast Guard personnel sent to augment the manpower for the oil leak containment effort also arrived in the country. They are expected to deploy their own ROV units.

The Philippines is also reaching out to South Korea for the deployment of their coast guard personnel to Oriental Mindoro, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) disowned the certificate of public convenience (CPC) presented by the ship owner, calling it “inauthentic”.

“Hindi siya authentic, so to speak. Kasi wala nga po kaming ini-issue na CPC amendment. At the same time, I never signed any CPC for that matter,” said Marina NCR Director Marc Pascua, one of the signees in the document presented by RDC Rield Marine Services.

(It’s inauthentic, so to speak. We never issued an amended CPC and at the same time, I never signed one.)

“I am the regional director of MARINA National Capital Region. I am not the director of franchising po,” he added.

Likewise, Marina Spokesperson Sharon Aledo said Feliciano Tira —another signee in the CPC — resigned on January 1, 2020, and died on December 27, 2022.

“This is of course subject to due process, and we are doing that at the moment… Kung hindi ka authorized mag-operate tapos nag-operate ka, definitely the ship owner will be held liable,” she added.

(If you are not authorized to operate but you still did, the ship owner will be held liable.)

MARINA is set to hold another hearing on the oil spill on Thursday, March 24. In the meantime, it had ordered the suspension of the operations of the other two ships owned by RDC Rield Marine Services. — Sundy Mae Locus/DVM, GMA Integrated News