Oil Spill in the Verde Island Passage

On February 28, MT Princess Empress capsized off the coast of Oriental Mindoro, along with cargo of 800,000 L of industrial oil. An ecological disaster unfolded overnight.

Today, thousands of residents have been robbed of their livelihood and critical food supply, with many now also reporting various health problems due to exposure from the oil spill. Meanwhile, experts estimate over 36,000 hectares of mangroves, corals, and sea grasses are in peril due to the oil spill.

CEED is currently working on the ground and with various groups and sectors for action and to demand accountability for this terrible situation.

Dispatches from a Disaster

A call for accountability and action

March 6, 2023

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Convenor of Protect VIP, writes:

We are gravely concerned for impacted communities. Seemingly overnight, at least 18,000 fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro alone have been robbed of their livelihood as fishing activities are forcibly put on hold. Residents are also robbed of their seafood supply – a heavy blow for a province in which over 50% of households already suffer various levels of food insecurity. We thus join local residents in lamenting what would be a prolonged suffering of the local fishing industry – valued at Php 11.80 billion across the 5 provinces of VIP in 2021 – as impacts of the oil spill are expected to be felt for years to come.

The tourism sector, which raked in Php 3.5 billion for the province of Oriental Mindoro alone in 2019, is also faced with severe disruption...

The injustice suffered by communities from this terrible incident is further amplified by health impacts they are likely to experience…

We call on the Philippine government for most urgent action to contain the spill, assess the severity of damage, and prioritize the welfare of impacted communities who must receive livelihood support and protection from health impacts. We also demand accountability from the owner of MT Princess Empress, RDC Reield Marines Services, and the fuel supply it contains...In transporting a highly polluting substance across the Verde Island Passage and its surrounding waters, these companies deliberately cruise through and place at risk fragile marine ecosystems and the livelihood of all who depend on them. A public investigation should be conducted immediately to determine the cause of this harrowing incident and the actors behind it, and hold these polluters to account for every negligence made...

Read the full statement here.