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Government of Calapan City on high alert as oil spill reaches coastlines

After reports of an oil slick from inhabitants of the Sitios (sub-villages) Villa Antonio and Proper in Barangay Navotas on Thursday afternoon, the local administration is now on high alert.

The two sub-villages are currently given precedence, according to Dennis Escosora, director of the Calapan Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO), even though their job is to deploy spill booms in any region that the oil spill is anticipated to reach.

He emphasized the municipal government’s call for residents to pay attention to official updates and advisories and to refrain from swimming, fishing, or eating fish from the affected areas.

On Thursday night, the city administration issued the following official social media post: “Be careful and keep vigilant, especially those living around the coastal areas.”

“At this time, do not sell seafood from Calapan, go swimming in the sea, or fish in the waters surrounding Calapan. It is recommended that older people and others who have breathing problems keep 100 meters away from the shore. Do not drink water from sources like water pumps that are 100 meters or closer to the seashore where oil slicks were seen. Avoid contacting any oil-contaminated dirt, the caution continued.

Previous to this, the city and its allies were constantly keeping an eye on the water for any potential oil spill spread. Early on, residents of Barangay Navotas prepared makeshift spill booms made of nylon, ropes, and empty plastic bottles.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute stated on Sunday that by March 16, the northeast monsoon winds could weaken, causing the oil to move southward to northern Palawan and Calapan and flow northward to Verde Island Passage. However, the majority of the oil would still end up along Naujan town and Pola Bay in Oriental Mindoro.

In the meantime, as of March 15, the Philippine Coast Guard national headquarters reported on its social media website that it had gathered 1,000 liters of oily water and seven sacks of items polluted with oil from Pola town.

The PCG also noted that during its offshore oil spill response operations from March 1 to 15, 6,603 liters of oily water and 57 sacks of oil-contaminated items were gathered.

As the MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 in the waters off Balingawan Point, the oil spill first affected Naujan town. The tanker, which belonged to RDC Reield Marine Services, was apparently traveling to the Visayas with 800,000 liters of industrial-grade oil from a refinery in Limay, Bataan when it capsized and sank because of engine issues.

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