Pola faces challenges as oil spill victims rush to get compensation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — The local government of Pola, Oriental Mindoro, one of the areas severely affected by the recent oil spill incident caused by the sunken MT Princess Empress, said it has yet to receive proper instructions regarding the distribution of compensation as residents rush to get their claims.

“Wala pa pong binibigay sakin na list of requirements. Dapat ipasa po yan sa punongbayan, kami ang magbababa sa barangay, hindi po pwedeng i-announce ng insurance company, i-announce na makaka-claim by Monday. Ang mga tao, dadagsa po, kawawa kami,” Pola Mayor Jennifer Cruz told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday.

[Translation: They have yet to give us the list of requirements. They should give it to our office instead of the insurance company just announcing they could claim on Monday. The people will rush, it will be hard for us.]

Following a meeting with the insurer of the sunken tanker, Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito “Bonz” Dolor announced last week that a claims office will be set up in the capitol to assist affected residents in their application for compensation. 

While the governor himself already made an appeal, Cruz said many residents still flooded her office to ask for assistance to be able to reach the capitol.

She reminded her constituents to stand by for further information before heading to the claims office because they could only end up getting less than what is appropriate depending on the damage they incurred.

On Sunday, House tourism committee vice chair Rep. Marvin Rillo said claims resulting from the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro may exceed ₱1.1 billion, the amount of compensation paid when a similar incident occurred in Guimaras in 2006.

Cruz said they are currently focusing cleanup operations in five barangays, while six other villages are under observation.

The mayor said they also need more assistance from the national government, specifically in terms of alternative livelihood for the thousands of fisherfolk unable to fish because of the oil spill.

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

More than 170,000 people have been affected, including over 13,000 fisherfolk, the government said.