Accountability and Transparency needed in Mindoro Oil Spill Incident
March 16, 2023 / Earth Island Institute Philippines
Accountability and transparency in the Mindoro oil spill incident is what the marine wildlife and environmental organization Earth Island Institute Philippines is calling for now that the owner of the 800,000 liters of oil and the shipper have been identified.
The call is in support of the Makabayan Coalition's submission of a resolution to Congress demanding a thorough investigation of the incident. The oil slick is currently threatening the Verde Island Passage, a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).
The group said that the recent oil spill in Mindoro has significantly harmed the marine environment and will continue to affect the livelihood of about 108,000 local fishermen, according to the Office of Civil Defense. It is only right to demand accountability from the owner of the industrial fuel oil (IFO) and the oil tanker involved in the incident.
"It is critical that both the Senate and the House of Representatives conduct their own investigations to ensure that no whitewashing or greenwashing happens and that justice is served and similar incidents are avoided in the future," said Robert Ray Medrano, Campaign Coordinator of the Earth Island Institute Philippines (EII PH), which asserts that the oil spill impacts the means of subsistence of fishermen in the area. They urge the accountable parties, SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corporation (a subsidiary of San Miguel Shipping and Lighterage) and RDC Reield Marine Services, to provide the affected fishing communities with fair and adequate compensation, including the restoration of the affected marine ecosystem.
"We call upon the government to thoroughly investigate and prioritize the protection of the environment and the people over corporate interests," adds Medrano.
The group also adds that the national and local government agencies must engage the scientific community as well as civil society and people’s organizations in the mobilization and resource generation efforts to contain the oil spill. Make damage and impact assessments with the community and create a rehabilitation plan for the affected marine environment and communities.
Environmentalists believe that the government must be proactive in conserving marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) such as the Verde Island Passage by prohibiting the transit of oil tankers and other ships carrying industrial chemicals. Local governments should also be trained and equipped to deal with oil spills at or near these areas.
Lastly, the group believes that it is vital to shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels since these are unsustainable and their ongoing usage is leading to terrible environmental problems, including climate change, air pollution, and environmental degradation such as this current oil spill disaster.
"To avoid such disasters at sea, we encourage the government to tighten its policy in hazardous material transportation and handling regulations and increase sanctions for offenders; lead and explore all alternatives to fossil fuels; and promote renewable energy sources for sustainability. We encourage everyone to protect our environment and the communities that depend on it." Medrano ends.
House Resolution 869