Climate and Environment

Catholic bishops decry ‘elusive’ accountability in Mindoro oil spill

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Catholic bishops decry �elusive� accountability in Mindoro oil spill
In this handout photo received from the Philippine Coast Guard and taken on March 2, 2023, a coast guard personnel collects water sample from of an oil spill in the waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. A Philippine tanker carrying 800,000 litres (211,338 gallons) of industrial fuel oil partially sank in the country's archipelagic waters Tuesday, causing a "suspected oil spill" stretching several kilometres, authorities said.
Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — As the first anniversary of the Mindoro oil spill nears, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the lack of accountability from companies owning the sunken oil tanker M/T Princess Empress.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace, along with Caritas Philippines, said that both the people and the environment continue to suffer from the impacts of the oil spill.

“For over half a year afterward, thousands of fisherfolk and other sectors were robbed of their means of living. Families had little to eat, and many also suffered illnesses from exposure to pollution. Thousands of hectares of mangroves and seagrasses were placed in peril, and so was the very fabric of life in our seas,” the CBCP’s statement read.

“The gravity of impacts has yet to be fully measured and continues to ripple today and in years to come,” it added.



The bishops expressed their support in seeking justice for the victims of the oil spill, highlighting the need for timely compensation for those affected by the incident.

“We decry the continued elusiveness of accountability on the part of companies behind the oil spill, and erring authorities that contributed to the incident,” the bishop’s statement read.

On Feb. 28, 2023, oil tanker M/T Princess Empress carrying 800,000 liters of oil had sunken in Oriental Mindoro. It caused an oil spill affecting certain parts of Region IV-A and Region IV-B.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources estimated P7 billion in environmental damage based on initial calculations of potentially oil-exposed mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs.

On the other hand, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council said that 27,850 farmers and fisherfolk had been affected by the incident, which caused agricultural damage of P4.9 billion.

On February 14, the Department of Justice recommended the filing of criminal charges against corporate officers of RDC Reield Marines Services Inc., two crew members of M/T Princess Empress; one private individual who is the project manager and one from Maritime Industry Authority. 

They were accused of multiple counts of falsification by private individual; multiple use of falsified documents and multiple counts of falsification of public or official documents. All charges are punishable under the Revised Penal Code.

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