Two million people depend on the Verde Island Passage’s rich marine resources. Because of the oil spill brought by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress, the abundance found in the VIP area is now in danger. Despite the ecological and economic losses due to this oil spill, the polluters remain silent.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, the lead convenor of the Protect VIP Network calls for the polluters to be held liable to the damages inflicted by the oil spill.
“Those responsible for this disaster owe a debt to all victims and future generations, a debt which can only be paid with transparency and accountability,” said Gariguez.
San Miguel Corporation, a prominent corporate giant in the country and the culprit behind this devastating spill, still refuse to accept accountability for this tragedy. SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corporation, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) Shipping and Lighterage, chartered RDC Reield Marine Services to ship the 800,000 liters of industrial oil carried by the tanker MT Princess Empress which caused the said oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.
With SMC as the charterer, it is generally considered as the owner of the vessel and the spiller, which holds them to the responsibility to pay. SMC must pay at least Php 70 million cash bond, which includes Php 50 million for the clean-up containment and Php 20 million for damages and payment to impacted communities, as stated in the Revised Rules on Prevention, Containment, Abatement, and Control of Oil Marine Pollution of the Philippine Coast Guard Memorandum Circular No. 01-2005.
“We need to act fast. As we ask our authorities for urgent and transparent action to contain the spill and stop further damage, we also remind them that hunger and heightened poverty are a real threat confronted by affected communities,” Gariguez said.
Aside from that, SMC is one of the prominent developers of fossil gas in the VIP and the biggest fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, according to a recent report by the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development.
Protect VIP continues to call out San Miguel Corporation and RDC Reield Marine Services to take responsibility and compensate for the damages incurred by the oil spill to the VIP and nearby communities.