Some residents say oil spill impact worse than that of COVID-19, says group

By JOVILAND RITA,GMA Integrated News

Affected residents of two towns in Oriental Mindoro find the assistance they have been given after the oil spill in March insufficient, a study conducted by an environmental group has shown.

At a press conference, Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines (CEC) research coordinator Jordan Fronda said some residents have said the impact of the oil spill was worse than that of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“May mga nagsasabi na para sa kanila mas malala pa yung oil spill kaysa sa COVID-19 pagdating sa epekto sa kanila. Dahil dito, zero talaga. Hindi mapagkunan ang dagat,” Fronda said.

(Some were saying that the oil spill is worse than COVID-19 in terms of its effects. Because of the oil spill, they have nothing. They cannot get food from the sea.)

“Halos lahat nakatanggap na ng ayuda sa Pola. Relatively mas kaunti ang sa Calapan so kailangan pang palakihin ang coverage. Pero, nonetheless, nandoon ang sentiment na kailangan i-improve ang quantity at quality ng relief na ibinigay,” he added.

(Almost everyone received relief in Pola but there was relatively less distribution in Calapan. Nonetheless, there is a sentiment that the quantity and quality of relief needs to be improved.)

GMA News Online has sought comment from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and will publish its side once available.

The group said 98% of the affected residents have already received aid but 81.5% of them said the assistance was insufficient. About 95% said they needed financial assistance to support the education of their children.

In Calapan, 86% said of the affected residents they already received aid but 98% of them said the assistant was not enough.

Fronda said the study was conducted through key informant interviews, focus group discussions, surveys, and ocular inspection to assess the environmental, health, and socio-economic impacts of the oil spill and disaster response from April 1 to 3.


It was conducted in four affected Barangays Lazareto Maidlang, Navotas, Silonay, and Calapan as well as in Barangays Misong and Tagumpay in Pola, he added.

AGHAM’s marine scientist Jerwin Baure said the roots and leaves of mangroves in Pola and Calapan Oriental Mindoro have been turning black due to the oil. Tar balls were also found in mangroves and sands.

“May nakita kaming iilang patay na maliit na bakawan pero hindi tiyak kung ano ang sanhi ng pagkamatay nila (We saw some dead small mangroves but it is not certain what caused their deaths),” Baure said.

Baure sea cucumbers, and marine worms, among others may eat the contaminated sands or mud.

He recommended the government conduct a comprehensive sampling of fresh and salt waters, sediments, fish, and other seafood. He noted that residents consume sea cucumbers.

Baure said the BFAR only sampled seawater and fish.

According to marine scientists, there should also be monitoring of the condition of seagrass and corals in the affected areas.

With this data, Baure said the BFAR and the DENR should determine when they will allow fishing again.

MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 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. —NB, GMA Integrated News