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PBBM directs DENR to expedite oil spill response efforts

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been directed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to expedite the cleanup of the oil leak in the affected districts of Oriental Mindoro.

The DENR is investigating the possibility of using the participants of this year’s Balikatan exercises for the cleanup operations along the shores affected by the oil spill brought on by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress on February 28 in the waters off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro province in response to the President’s order.

DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said the organization would work with the US Embassy to investigate the possibility of deploying the participants of the joint military drills as part of efforts for cleanup, mitigation, and remediation to lessen the impact of the oil spill incident during a meeting with Marcos in Malacaang on Wednesday.

The yearly bilateral exercise between the Philippine Military Forces and the US Armed Forces is called Balikatan.

According to Loyzaga, South Korea and Japan have expressed a desire to assist in containing the oil spill.

According to Loyzaga, the DENR is also working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the vessel owner, and the province’s local government units to find extra funding sources for the cash-for-work program to help the impacted residents.

According to DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, the municipalities of Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Gloria, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola, and Roxas in Oriental Mindoro; Caluya in Antique; and Agutaya in Palawan will receive temporary means of subsistence.

Loyzaga pointed out that the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers cash-for-work program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had roughly PHP60 million set aside for it (TUPAD).

She claimed that the insurance company for the owner of the ship has promised to send a ship over from China to stop the leak.

The DENR director noted the most recent reports showing that the Cuyo Island group has been affected by the oil spill.

She said that the oil spill at Antique and Semirara Island is still growing and that the rate of oil discharge from the sunken ship is between 35,000 and 50,000 liters per day.

Naujan and Pola in Oriental Mindoro would be the heaviest hit, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) predictions.

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