President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said on Saturday that the oil spill response efforts in Oriental Mindoro being conducted by the government and the international community have so far produced "good" results.
“Maganda naman po ang naging resulta so far, dahil lahat po ng ahensya ng gobyerno mula noong tumama ‘yung oil spill, mula noong lumubog ‘yung barko, ay lahat na naka-alert na lahat,” Marcos said in a speech in Pola, Oriental Mindoro.
(The result has been good so far because all government agencies have been on alert since the oil spill and the ship's sinking.)
Marcos said he assured Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito "Bonz" Dolor that he had directed his Cabinet secretaries to rush the cleanup efforts due to the threat of the oil spill reaching the shoreline.
"Pabawas na nang pabawas ‘yung lumalabas na langis. At pag nagawa na natin na naisara na natin lahat nung nag-leak doon sa barko at nahigop na natin ‘yung natira na langis doon sa loob, tapos na ‘yung operation doon sa pag-control ng oil spill," the President said.
(The amount of oil released is steadily decreasing. The effort to manage the oil spill will be completed once we have sealed every leak on the ship and removed all of the remaining oil.)
Marcos, however, said there was no deadline to finish the cleanup.
“There’s no deadline for the cleanup. I cannot make a deadline for the cleanup. If the wind changes, iba na naman ‘yung timing (the timing will also change). So it’s useless for anybody to say the deadline is this, this day or that day,” he told reporters.
“There’s really not much more that we can do in terms of controlling the oil spill.”
According to Marcos, the Department of Labor and Employment made an evaluation to determine the possible alternative livelihoods for affected residents.
“Babalik na naman tayo sa livelihood. Cleanup sa mga beach, sa mga shoreline. Pero ang critical ngayon ay walang hanapbuhay pa ang tao, ‘yun ang inuuna namin, na magkaroon ng livelihood,” he said.
(We're going back to livelihood. Cleanup on beaches and shorelines, but the critical thing now is that people still don't have jobs; that's what we are prioritizing, to have a livelihood.)
“There are many affected barangays. And that’s what we are trying to do. We are trying to find alternative livelihood for them until they can go back to their old fishing grounds,” he added.
During his visit to the province, Marcos conducted an aerial inspection of the affected coastal communities, presided over a situation briefing with mayors, and distributed various forms of government assistance, including fishing boats, fish smoking machines, and relief packs.
He also thanked the international community for their assistance to the government on the oil spill response.
“Kaya’t sa ngayon naman, mabuti naman marami tayong kaibigang tinulungan tayo, galing sa Japan, galing sa America. Tinulungan tayo para — kung papaano ang pinakamagandang gagawin para mabawasan ang epekto nung oil spill,” he said.
(For now, it is good that we have many friends who assisted us, from Japan and America. They helped us with the best methods to reduce the impact of the oil spill.)
The United States recently provided $20 million worth of assistance for the oil spill response in the said province.
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 Philippine Coast Guard, 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 said.
Some P441.25 million in income has been lost in 22 fishing days due to the Mindoro oil spill, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said Saturday.
In a briefer sent to media, the BFAR said more than 26,000 fishermen were directly affected by the oil spill as of March 31, and they suffered P714 in daily income lost. —KG/VBL, GMA Integrated News