Tanker owner liable for over ₱330M in damages for Mindoro oil spill – lawmaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — The owner of MT Princess Empress, the tanker that caused the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, is liable for over ₱330 million for the damages it caused under international conventions, a lawmaker said on Monday.

According to Aklan Second District Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr., tanker owner RDC Reield Marine Services is liable under several international conventions, including the 1992 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1992 CLC).

Under the 1992 CLC, the firm is liable for up to ₱331.3 million and additional liabilities under the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund should they fail to comply.

“Beyond cleanups, we must make an effort to make MT Princess Empress and its owners RDC Reield Marine Services accountable to the government for damaging our tourism industries and marine resources and to the affected communities whose health and livelihood are heavily compromised,” Haresco said in a statement.

READ: PCG says a month not enough for oil spill cleanup 

The lawmaker added the tanker owner is also liable under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and the International Safety Management Code.

He also recommended that the insurance company of MT Princess Empress be pursued by the Insurance Commission.

Concerned that Aklan might also be affected, Haresco filed House Resolution No. 842 that seeks to conduct an inquiry into the extent of the oil spill’s damage.

RDC Reield Marine Services has apologized for the oil spill and assured all those affected that it is taking steps to address the problem and minimize its impact.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) assessed that over 24,000 hectares of coral reef in Oriental Mindoro may be at risk due to the oil spill in waters off the province. 

The UPMSI also said some of the slick off Oriental Mindoro could reach the Verde Island Passage by March 16, putting marine biodiversity and other endangered and threatened species at risk.

“We must employ a whole-of-government approach in seeking for justice, mitigating the devastating effects of the oil spill, and dealing with the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected communities and environmental resources,” Haresco said.