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Environment groups call for sustained investigation, urgent containment of oil spill in VIP


Civil society groups including Oceana Philippines, Greenpeace Philippines, and Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) on Monday raised alarm over the continued spread of the oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress amid reports that it has now reached Isla Verde, and called for sustained and thorough investigation over the matter.

In a statement read during a public forum which gathered civil society organizations, experts, and representatives of affected stakeholders, the groups decried the “disruption caused by the oil spill from MT Princess Empress to the lives and livelihood of coastal communities and the health of critical marine biodiversity – as the fuel tanker sank in waters belonging to the Verde Island Passage, the most biodiverse marine habitat in the world that is undeniably a national ecological treasure for the Philippines.”

The groups called on the national government to “Immediately contain and remove the oil spill, with full transparency on the status of containment and removal towards affected communities and the Filipino public, and streamlined leadership in overall disaster risk reduction and management efforts.”

Last March 14, the Senate’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change called for the first hearing on the oil spill since the sinking of the fuel tanker. The groups, however, are concerned that “we have yet to see decisive leadership on the necessary steps among concerned national government agencies” and “a next hearing has yet to be called for by Congress.”

A separate statement issued during the public forum by about 90 lawyers across the Philippines read,” We demand a thorough investigation into this disaster and hold accountable those responsible, including those in agencies who were in dereliction of their duties. There should be transparency and strict accountability in the conduct of the impartial investigation and full disclosure of parties involved in this mess. It was only owing to a senate inquiry that critical details finally came to light two weeks after the tragedy struck, such as the relevant permits, or the lack thereof, of the shipowner RDC Reield Marines Services, Inc., the necessary measures taken to ensure the seaworthiness of the tanker MT Princess Empress, and the lack of clear coordination among the government agencies supposed to be responding to this disaster.”

“To date, relevant government agencies have still not confirmed the report that it is a San Miguel Corporation subsidiary, SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corporation, that was the charterer of the sunken vessel,” the statement read.

“We urge the government to take swift and decisive action to ensure that the right to a clean, healthy, and balanced ecology is upheld and protected for the benefit of present and future generations of Filipinos,” the groups said.

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