Puerto Galera still unaffected by Mindoro oil spill —mayor

By GISELLE OMBAY,GMA Integrated News

The local government of Puerto Galera said Saturday that its municipal waters have remained uncontaminated by the massive oil spill from the oil tanker that sank in late February off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro.

Citing a report from the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), Puerto Galera Mayor Rocky Ilagan said that the oil slick has reached 84 barangays across 10 municipalities in the province, and as of April 15, Puerto Galera was not one of them.

“The data presented by the OCD indicates that Puerto Galera is not included in the areas affected by the oil spill,” Ilagan said in a statement.

On Saturday, Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire that the agency is not recommending a ban on water activities in Puerto Galera, but the town was already included in a random test sampling to check its waters.

She said the data is not yet conclusive, but assured that the DOH will prohibit the public from using or consuming water in the town if it was proven that it has chemical contamination that could be harmful for the body.

Ilagan said that the LGU will maintain the status quo and await the official position of the DOH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the inter-agency task force to verify the information regarding the oil spill.

“A hasty and premature reaction from the LGU, without considering the advice of the members of the task force, may have an adverse effect on the general welfare of our people, which is always of paramount concern,” the mayor added.

Earlier, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco initiated a scuba diving activity in La Laguna Point, Puerto Galera "to balance the need to manage a crisis while ensuring livelihood by supporting our local government units through unwavering national government efforts geared towards the industry.”


Frasco said Puerto Galera continued to be unaffected by the recent oil spill, adding that it remains open for tourists worldwide.

In March, the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) projected that the oil spill may reach Puerto Galera as the Northeast Monsoon or Amihan slowed down and was going towards the north along the Verde Island passage.

Ilagan had called out the UP-MSI for this projection, saying it resulted in tourist booking cancellations.

In response, UP-MSI associate professor Dr. Irene Rodriguez said they released their projection as an "early warning" for local governments to prepare in case the oil spill reaches their respective waters.

Oil tanker MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Naujan while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel.  —LBG, GMA Integrated News