It is undeniable that the sinking of the MT Princess Empress has led to an abrupt decline in the fishing industry. This also means a halt in the lives of those who depend on the sea for their livelihood and their families that depend on them.
Romar Andres is just one of the many fisherfolk in Pola that lost their income due to the oil spill.
“Magandang araw po, ako po si Romar Andres, taga rito po sa Sitio Kabilang Ibayo, Batuhan, Pola, Oriental Mindoro. Ako po ay isang mangingisda, [at ito] pong oil spill na ito ay [mahigit] 100 days na po. Kami po ay sa loob ng 100 days ay walang hanapbuhay, [dahil sa] dagat lamang po kami umaasa.”
(“Good day, I am Romar Andres, residing here at Sitio Kabilang Ibayo, Batuhan, Pola, Oriental Mindoro. I am a fisherfolk, and this oil spill has already been [more than] a hundred days. In that 100 days, we do not have any source of income [because] we only rely on the sea.”)
Romar also expresses his frustrations against the inaction of the polluters for the damages they have caused to their town.
“Kami po ay nananawagan sa may-ari ng barko na sana naman po ay bigyan niyo po kami ng tulong para sa tagal na po namin na hindi makapaghanapbuhay, [gawa] po ng oil spill na dinala niyo po dito sa aming bayan,” he added.
(“We are appealing to the owner of the ship to please provide us with assistance, as we have been unable to make a living for a long time now due to the oil spill that you brought to our town.”)
With no income, his family’s needs are also compromised. Romar’s situation has led his children’s education to be at stake.
“Ako po ay may pumapasok na anak na college sa Pinamalayan, hindi ko na po alam kung saan kukuha ng pang-tuition po niya kasi nga po matagal na po kaming hindi nakakapangisda. Sana naman po ay matugunan po ninyo ang aming panawagan.”
(“I have a college student child in Pinamalayan, and I no longer know where to get the tuition for my child because we have been unable to fish for a long time. We hope that you will respond to our plea.”)
According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), more than 26,000 fishermen were directly affected by the oil spill, having an income loss of P714 daily.
The urgent need for resolution for the damages incurred by the oil spill cannot be overstated. The fisherfolk communities and their families, who did not do wrong for this tragedy to happen, suffer the most. The Protect VIP Network joins Romar’s plea, along with countless fisherfolk communities, in demanding accountability and decisive action from the polluters in compensating for the damages they have incurred to the affected communities in Oriental Mindoro and other surrounding regions.