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NDRRMC forms inter-agency task force on Oriental Mindoro oil spill

An inter-agency task force was created on Friday to address the impact of the oil spill in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

NDRRMC executive director and Civil Defense administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno issued a memorandum for the creation of the task force.

The task force will monitor developments and implement measures that would contain the spread of the oil spill and conduct emergency response activities to the affected areas.

Member agencies include the MIMAROPA offices of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Health.

Also included in the task force are the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Southern Tagalog District, Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command, and MIMAROPA local government units. 

Office of Civil Defense MIMAROPA director Eugene Cabrera will lead the team.

PCG personnel are  now conducting shoreline assessment and deploying equipment and assets to contain and recover the spilled oil.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau is also working with Coast Guard Substation Oriental Mindoro and Joint Water Sampling Operation.

Combined teams of uniformed personnel and local government units are also conducting coastal cleanup operations.

Officials had an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

The areas affected by the oil spill are the municipalities of Pola, Pinamalayan, Naujan, and Bongabong in Oriental Mindoro.

Supplemental budget

At the House of Representatives, Ways and means panel chairperson Joey Salceda of Albay said they are ready to provide a supplemental budget to address the impact of the widespread spillage.

“We are prepared to propose and enact a supplemental budget if it comes to that. If the President requests it, we will grant it,” Salceda said. “This is an event that could have devastating consequences to fish supply and tourism, and it will definitely affect hundreds of thousands of families if it gets out of hand.” 

Salceda said such a move has a precedent, recalling that the House appropriations panel back in 2006 approved House Bill No. 9358, which, among other things, granted at least P5.4 billion in supplemental appropriations to sectors affected by the Guimaras oil spill in 2006.

At the time, Salceda was the House appropriations panel chairperson.

“I don’t think it (proposal of a supplemental budget now) will face significant resistance in either chamber. What I think should happen is, the President assesses the resources within his disposal, and asks Congress for more if he doesn’t have enough in the budget to deal with an event like this,” he said.

“In this particular instance, a supplemental budget would be perfectly understandable, given that no one can really anticipate an oil spill,” he added.

The PCG on Thursday confirmed that the oil spotted in the area where the motor tanker sank came from the industrial fuel oil the vessel was carrying and not just diesel fuel as earlier reported.

MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank due to strong waves. 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.—Joviland Rita and Llanesca T. Panti/AOL/RSJ GMA Integrated News