Protect VIP, a coalition of communities, sectors, and organizations that advocate for the protection of the Verde Island Passage (VIP) on Monday called on the government to speed up efforts to contain the oil spill and hold accountable those responsible for it as Puerto Galera’s waters were declared unsafe for swimming on Saturday due to the oil spill.
The declaration came in the middle of the summer season, when Puerto Galera, a major tourist destination, would have been full of people seeking to escape the summer heat.
“Puerto Galera and other areas in the VIP affected by the oil spill are set to lose millions in expected income from tourism. The continued spread of the oil slick will cause more damage unless it is completely contained by the government. Damage already done must be compensated for by those responsible, which the government must also identify,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Protect VIP Convenor.
Tourism is just one of the sectors affected by the oil spill in the VIP, an area which supports the livelihood of over two million Filipinos.
“Many people in Puerto Galera and the surrounding areas rely on income brought by tourists who wish to see the beauty of VIP. This latest development, at a time when the industry is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes on top of the damage already done to the livelihood of fisherfolk and others who could not go out and reap the resources of VIP as it is now unsafe for human activities due to the oil spill,” said Gariguez.
The environmental advocate also warned the government that continued inaction on its part will magnify the losses further.
“We have already suffered 1 billion pesos in damage to livelihood resources. If the government continues on its slow, meandering path to containment of the spill, it is not far-fetched to think that the spreading spill will cripple the economy of VIP,” said Gariguez.