Oriental Mindoro to conduct massive cleanup on Friday

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — Oriental Mindoro will conduct a massive coastal cleanup on Friday as more people have fallen ill because of the oil spill.

Latest data from the provincial government showed an additional 25 oil spill related cases — bringing the total to 43.

"We cannot afford na madagdagan nang madagdagan (ang may sakit). Every day na lumilipas is calamitous," Oriental Mindoro Gov. Bonz Dolor told a briefing Thursday.

[Translation: We cannot afford a further increase in cases. Every day that passes is calamitous.]

Dolor said he wanted to start immediately the massive cleanup on Friday, instead of Monday. It will be a concerted effort with various agencies, including the Health, Social Welfare, and Environment departments, he said.

This would also start temporary livelihood programs for affected families, especially in the 78 coastal barangays from nine Oriental Mindoro towns that have declared a state of calamity: Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, and Bulalacao.

The slick was caused by the sunken MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will hire residents for the cleanup efforts. They are from the list of representatives from the affected families. Others will be employed for the cash-for-work program.

So far, around 230 liters of floating oil and 76 drums of oil-contaminated debris that reached the shoreline have been collected.

The PCG also reported it has positioned oil spill booms in waters near Naujan and the Calima River in Pola for the first time as waves calmed down.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he hopes the the cleanup efforts will be over in less than four months

PCG Commandant Adm. Artemio Abu told a briefing that the country's coast guard eyes to finish it in three months.

"Sa [oil spill sa] Guimaras, experience natin, three months...Let's hope for the best and earliest that we can. 'Yun po ang effort natin," Abu said.

[Translation: During the oil spill in Guimaras, our experience was three months...Let's hope for the best and earliest that we can. That's our effort.]

Japan also said it is sending a disaster relief expert team to support response efforts.

Effects on health

The additional two dozen oil spill related cases prompted Gov. Dolor to push for an immediate massive coastal cleanup.

Authorities have evacuated some residents, especially the elderly and those with underlying illnesses.

"We will be forced to order forced evacuation only for those areas na may oil spill sa tabi ng shore [with oil spill near the shore]," the governor said, if the situation worsens.

He added that they are waiting for the test results of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to determine the safety of marine products for consumption, as well as the results from the Environment Department to determine if the air can affect the health of residents.

The governor reminded locals to wear the N-95 masks for those near the oil spill, and reiterated instructions for local authorities to control residents not to go near affected waters.

CNN Philippines correspondent Currie Cator and digital producer Jelo Ritzhie Mantaring contributed to this report.