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#KamiAngVIP: From Roberto, a fisherfolk of Pola, Oriental Mindoro

It has been over a hundred days since the sinking of the MT Princess Empress, with the resulting oil spill already approaching its fourth month - a mark which President Bongbong Marcos said must be the deadline for resolving the oil spill situation.


As days continue to grow, the toll on fishing communities increases. With little to no means of earning for their families, fisherfolks are left to wonder how to pay for their children’s education and secure a future for them.


Roberto Bargabino, president of a fisherfolk association in Pola calls out the owner of the ship to take responsibility for the tragedy that they have caused to their community.


“Ako po si Roberto Bargabino, isa pong pangulo ng samahan ng mangingisda dito sa amin sa Brgy. Batuhan, Kabilang Ibayo. Kami po ay nananawagan sa may-ari ng barko. Bakit po ganito? Hindi pa rin kami makapangisda. Ang tagal po nilang linisin ang dagat.”


(“I am Roberto Bargabino, president of the association of fisherfolk here in Brgy. Batuhan, Kabilang Ibayo. We are appealing to the owner of the ship. Why is it like this? We still can’t go fishing. It is taking too long for them to clean the sea.)





The Philippine Coast Guard recently announced that oil spill recovery operations have already “completed”. However, Pola Mayor Jennifer Cruz disagrees with this declaration, as she stated that there are still visible slicks of oil in her constituents' area.


“Kami po ay may mga pumapasok na anak na nag-co-college. Ano po kayang aming gagawin dito? Siguro titigil na naman dahil lang sa kanila. Kami naman po ay paki-tulungan, diyan po sa may-ari ng barko, sa may-ari ng langis – nananawagan po kami,” Roberto added.


(“We have children going to college. What should we do about this? Maybe [our operations] would stop again just because of them. Please help us, for the owner of the ship, for the owner of the oil – we are appealing.”)


Fisherfolks like Roberto are forced to stop fishing because of this oil spill, leaving them to struggle for their day-to-day living and an uncertainty for the future of their children.


SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corporation, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) Shipping and Lighterage, chartered RDC Reield Marine Services to ship the 900,000 liters of industrial oil carried by the tanker MT Princess Empress which caused the said oil spill in Oriental Mindoro. On top of being charterer, President and CEO of SMC,Ramon Ang also admitted that they are a client of RDC Reield Marine Services, and that the vessel is supposed to be delivered to them, among several other companies. Until now, these big corporations haven’t paid the price for the damages they have inflicted.


Protect VIP continues to stand with the communities in Oriental Mindoro and other affected regions in demanding for the polluters to take responsibility.


This oil spill tragedy raises an alarm over the neglect suffered by the VIP. There is a need to escalate the level of protection of the VIP, especially as it faces more threats that place it in grave peril - such as the boom of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Batangas.


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