Claims from Oriental Mindoro oil spill seen to reach ₱1.1 billion – lawmaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — Compensation claims resulting from the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro caused by the sunken MT Princess Empress may exceed those filed following the sinking of another oil tanker in Guimaras in 2006, House tourism committee vice chair Rep. Marvin Rillo said Sunday.

“If we look back at the MT Solar incident, a total of ₱1.1 billion was paid to settle 26,872 compensation claims, including those filed by owners of beach resorts, tour boat operators, and other tourism service providers hit by the 2006 oil spill,” Rillo said.

Given that the MT Solar incident occurred 17 years ago, Rillo said the inflation-adjusted claims for the damage caused by the MT Princess Empress leakage may likely exceed ₱1.1 billion.

"Apart from tourism-related claimants, we expect property owners hit by the oil spill to file compensation claims for damages to beachfront properties, fishing boats, and fishing gear,” Rillo said. “Those who suffered economic losses, including fisherfolk, seaweed farmers, and fishpond operators, are likewise expected to file claims.”

He said local governments that had to pay their workers more as a result of the oil spill disaster are also expected to make claims, along with clean-up contractors and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The province of Oriental Mindoro will set up a claims office in its capitol on Monday to assist residents affected by the oil spill, according to Governor Humerlito “Bonz” Dolor.

Dolor explained that the province establish the claims office first before announcing the procedure for submitting a claim.

“Huwag po tayong magdagsa sa Monday… Itatayo po natin ang claims office at magbibigay po ako ng panibagong announcement sa Monday katuwang ang ating mga claims officers sa step-by-step process,” he said.

[Translation: Please don't go in droves on Monday. We will set up the claims office and I will make another announcement on Monday with our claims officers for the step-by-step process.]

A lawyer from MT Princess Empress’ insurer P&I Club said the acceptable claims would vary depending on the effect of the oil spill.

The tanker loaded with 900,000 liters of industrial oil sank off Naujan town on Feb. 28.

At least 149,000 people have been affected, including over 13,000 fisherfolk.

READ: DENR: 12 Oriental Mindoro municipalities affected by oil spill

CNN Philippines' correspondent Kaithreen Cruz contributed to this story.