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US provided over $20M worth of assistance in Oriental Mindoro oil spill response —Galvez

The United States has provided $20 million worth of assistance for the response in the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, Philippine Defense office-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

At a joint press conference in Washington, Galvez said the aid showed the strength of the Philippine-US defense alliance.

"The timely and efficient response of our allies in providing the technical and material support amounting to more than $20 million was very instrumental in mitigating the impact of this environmental disaster on our coastal communities that may affect millions of Filipino people,” he said.

Galvez said the US Defense, Embassy, and Navy manifested support through the deployment of remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) which conducted surveys on the sunken motor tanker (MT) Princess Empress.

He added that the technical support from the US Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also helped contain the oil spill.

In March, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $183,700 or P10 million worth of assistance to the province to support oil spill management and environmental assessment.

Through its partnership with the World Food Program, USAID also supported the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in transporting 20,000 food packs for affected families.

MT Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank due to strong waves on February 28. All the 20 people on board were rescued.

According to the PCG, the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach.

As of Wednesday, a total of 178,306 people or 37,871 families were affected by the oil spill in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Some 208 individuals fell ill due to the oil spill.

Damage in agriculture worth P263,556,100 was reported in Mimaropa and Western Visayas, according to the NDRRMC.

State of calamity was declared in 15 cities and municipalities.

Assistance worth P230,345,633.81 has been provided to the victims of the oil spill, the NDRRMC said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News