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OCD calls for better oil spill response

MANILA: The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has highlighted the need for better oil spill response aside from sterner measures and regulations against water pollution.

OCD administrator, Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno, made this call a year after MT Princess Empress sank off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro province on Feb. 28, 2023, causing a massive oil spill that also reached the waters of Antique, Batangas and Palawan provinces.

“It has been a year since the oil spill incident happened in Mindoro. Though it took us time, still we were able to surmount all the challenges that we encountered because of inter-agency and multisector action and though we hope that it will not happen again, the incident calls on us to strengthen our preparedness and response so that we can minimize the negative impacts of such incident,’ Nepomuceno said in a statement Saturday night.

A regional task force was created on March 3, 2023 to address the oil spill from the sunken tanker loaded with 800,000 liters of industrial fuel
oil.

In the same month, a national task force was also established to ramp up the government’s response operations.

‘We are pleased that it is done now, however, we cannot set aside the huge cost of damage, the environmental and health impacts that the incident caused. By acknowledging these, better preparedness and response are needed both from the government side and the companies,’ Nepomuceno added.

Nepomuceno on Friday joined the commemoration activity on the first year of the oil spill incident at the Provincial Capitol Complex in Calapan City.

Nepomuceno said the agency learned a lot from the oil spill incident response operations.

The event was organized by the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro to recognize the efforts and contributions of various government agencies, organizations, communities, and individuals to response operations.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rexlon Gatchalian, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yul
o-Loyzaga, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Julius Yano, OCD Mimaropa Regional Director Eugene Cabrera, Philippine Coast Guard Vice Admiral Rolando Lizor Punzalan, and Incident Commander Commodore Geronimo Tuvilla also attended the event.

Last Feb. 26, the local government unit (LGU) of Pola, Oriental Mindoro under Mayor Jennifer “Ina Alegre” Cruz lifted its state of calamity.

Despite the lifting of the state of calamity, the DSWD said it will continue to extend assistance and support to the affected areas, including Pola, one of the hardest hit towns in Oriental Mindoro.

Gatchalian had maintained a constant coordination policy with the LGUs ever since they were affected by the oil spill based on the instruction of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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