The latest photographs from the Philippine Coast Guard show the oil spill reaching the shores of Antique.

It is a race against time as government authorities huddle to contain the oil spill caused by the capsized tanker MV Princess Empress last February 28 in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

As of March 4, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that the thick dark oil from the submerged tanker has reached Sitio Sabang in Brgy. Tinogboc, Liwagao Island in Brgy. Sibolo and Sitio Tambak in Brgy. Semirara in Caluya, Antique,

8 drums of leaked oil was recovered by the Maritime Environmental Protection Force Western Visayas (MEPFORCE WV), Coast Guard Sub-Station Semirara and the Brgy. Officials of Brgy Tinogboc Island.

DOTr to ask for Japan’s help
In an interview, transport secretary Jaime Bautista assured the public that the PCG is already working with other concerned agencies to contain the spillage.

“’Yung Coast Guard nandoon. Tinitingnan nila kung papaano pigilan pa ‘yong pagkalat ng langis. Sana ay huwag umabot sa Verde Island dahil ito ay protected area natin,” he said

A report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also revealed the possible threats posed by the oil spill to the nearby marine environment

“A DENR-BMB report states that on a maximum of 40-kilometer radius from 5NM East of Balingawan Port, 21 locally-managed marine protected areas can be potentially affected due to oil spillage. It has mapped potential risk areas including seagrass beds, mangroves, and dispersion pathways for spawned fish larvae,” the DENR said in a statement.

DOTr also said that they will be asking help from Japan to contain the catasthrope.

“Siguro ay hihingi kami ng tulong sa Japanese government dahil nabanggit sa akin na malaki ang kakayahan ng Japanese government na matulungan tayo para hindi masyadong kumalat ang oil spill na ito sa ating islands sa Mindoro,” he added.

Task Force
On Friday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has convened a task force to monitor the incident.

The task force will be headed by the Office of Civil Defence MIMAROPA.

“In a memorandum issued 3 March 2023, NDRRMC Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator, Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno organized an inter-agency task force to monitor developments and implement measures that would contain the spread of the oil spill, recover the spilled fuel, as well as conduct emergency response activities to the areas that may be affected by the incident,” the OCD said in a statement.

DENR has also established the ‘Task Force Naujan Oil Spill’ that will be headed by DENR Undersecretary and chief of staff Marilou Erni, who served as the corporate ground response coordinator during the Guimaras oil spill in 2006.

Assistance to affected communities
In a statement, Mayor Jennifer Cruz of Pola, Oriental Mindoro said that the town is currently under state of calamity as their seashore and seawater has turned black causing some species of fish to die.

Over-all, 18,000 registered fishermen in Oriental Mindoro was affected by the fishing ban.

OrMin govenor Humerlito Dolor said that food packs will be given to the affected families.

In Liwagao Island, Antiques 600 residents or 150 households were effected.

President Bongbong Marcos has pledged to provide various forms of assistance to those affected by the oil spill through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The House of Representatives has expressed that they are ready to pass a supplemental budget in support to the governments action to address the calamity.