Marcos wants oil spill cleanup finished in under 4 months

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. hopes that the cleanup of the Oriental Mindoro oil spill will be over in less than four months.

Speaking to reporters, Marcos said the government will expedite efforts to help affected residents, including fishermen whose livelihood has been disrupted.

“Ang Guimaras na oil spill apat na buwan bago na-clean up,” Marcos said, referring to the 2006 disaster when the motor tanker Solar 1 carrying over 2 million liters of bunker fuel sank off the coast of Guimaras.

“Siguro naman this time, kasi mas bawas nang kaunti ang oil spill, ay mas mabibilisan natin,” he continued. “Kahit na hindi sa isang buwan. Hindi naman siguro natin paaabutin ng apat na buwan.”

[Translation: It took four months to clean up the Guimaras oil spill. Perhaps this time, since the amount of oil is smaller, the cleanup would be faster. Maybe not as quickly as one month, but I think we won’t let it reach four months.]

The Philippine Coast Guard earlier cited lack of human resources and equipment as main challenges in the cleanup operations.

The current oil spill was caused by the Feb. 28 sinking of the motor tanker Princess Empress, which carried 800,000 liters of industrial oil, near Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro.

It has prompted the Oriental Mindoro government to place 78 coastal barangays in nine towns under a state of calamity, and the effects of the spill are now also felt in nearby areas.

Marcos noted that the government has launched a cash-for-work program, where affected fishermen can help in the cleanup drive as a temporary and alternative source of income.

“Binabantayan namin (ang sitwasyon) nang husto,” the President said. “Lahat, hindi lamang pamahalaan, kundi pati na ang mga private corporations na merong equipment. Pati na ang Japan, nagpadala ng tulong."

[Translation: We are monitoring the situation closely. Besides the government, private corporations and even Japan are also helping address this.]

Earlier, the group Pamalakaya called on the administration to provide immediate subsidy and livelihood support to fishing families in affected areas, as it expects lesser catch – even fishkill — due to the spill’s impact on the marine environment.