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#KamiAngVIP: From Mayor Cruz of Pola, Oriental Mindoro

More than 100 days have passed, yet the residents of Pola, Oriental Mindoro are still suffering from the oil spill brought by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress last February 28, 2023.

Jennifer Cruz, the current mayor of Pola, Oriental Mindoro, joins the call for action and justice in a recent interview with the Protect VIP Network, as part of the #KamiAngVIP movement to give face to the Verde Island Passage together with affected communities of the oil spill.

“[Mahigit] isang daang araw na, ano ba yung next [step] natin? Hindi pa natin nakikita yung hustisya. Until now, hindi pa rin lumulutang yung may-ari [ng barko at langis]. Wala pang nangyayari,” Mayor Cruz expressed the inaction of the polluters regarding the oil spill tragedy.

("It has been [more than] a hundred days, what will be the next [step]? Justice is still not served. Until now, the owners [of the ship and oil] are still out of sight. Nothing is happening.")

According to the Oil Pollution Compensation Act (R.A. No. 9483), the owner of the ship or its insurer should be held liable for any oil pollution damages.

“Ano yung susunod na mangyayari sa atin? Kailan matatapos ang delubyo sa ating karagatan? Tapusin na natin ito. Panawagan natin na sana may makasuhan na,” she added.

("What will happen to us? When will this disaster be over? Let us end this. We call on for someone to be held accountable.")

Mayor Cruz also seeks for collective efforts to help restore the affected marine ecosystems, emphasizing the vulnerable Verde Island Passage.

“Panawagan [din] natin na maging maayos na ang lahat. Hindi pwedeng [hindi tayo tatayo]. Kailangang tayuan natin lahat ito. Ang paglinis at pag-asikaso ng ating karagatan, dapat [nakaalalay] tayong lahat [at dapat na] tumutulong para maayos ang karagatan, lalo na [sa] Verde Island Passage.”

("We also hope for everything to be restored in order. We cannot remain idle. We need to stand together. We should all be proactive in the efforts to clean and restore our seas, especially the Verde Island Passage.")

Pola, Oriental Mindoro has incurred approximately PHP 130 million worth of damages due to the oil spill. Up to this day, the residents still suffer from the aftermath of the tragedy. Protect VIP joins the call of Mayor Cruz and the affected families of Pola in urging the polluters to take action and accountability for the sake of the thousands of disrupted lives of affected individuals and damaged ecosystems.



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