President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has instructed government agencies to carry out cleanup operations in connection with the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, and assured affected communities that the government will extend assistance, particularly through the cash-for-work program.
During a media interview on the sidelines of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo launch in Quezon City on Wednesday, the President said authorities have located the sunken tanker that has been leaking industrial fuel oil, enabling them to predict the direction of the spill.
“My instruction to DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment] and DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] is to clean up. Because the fishermen cannot fish now, and therefore they have no job. We replaced it with a cash-for-work program because they will help to carry out cleanup operations,” Marcos said.
“But in the meantime, they are engaged in the cash-for-work program in the cleanup. When that’s over, they can go fishing again. They can return to their jobs,” the President added.
According to Marcos, the government is monitoring fishing sanctuaries and tourist areas, and will immediately carry out a cleanup drive if they detect any presence of oil along the shoreline.
“And we are keeping an eye on private corporations that have equipment, Japan has sent aid to prevent oil from reaching the shoreline,” the President said.
Marcos said he hopes that through the current efforts, the oil spill could be contained so that the conditions in the affected communities would normalize soon.
It was reported that eight more towns in the province of Oriental Mindoro were placed under a state of calamity early this week to help authorities extend aid to communities affected by the oil spill.
The sinking of tanker MT Princess Empress resulted in the spillage of thick industrial oil, posing health hazards to affected residents and disrupting the livelihood of fishermen as well as owners of resorts and other business establishments.
Local authorities had said the oil spill seriously affected Oriental Mindoro’s marine protected areas.