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STATEMENT OF PROTECT VIP ON THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS, JR.

We are surprised that President Marcos chose not to mention the first major environmental disaster his administration confronted in his State of the Nation Address, five months after the oil spill began. Marcos himself committed that he will resolve this crisis in under four months, and we take its absence in his speech as his admission of failing to meet his own deadline. Is the plight of more than 24,000 fisherfolk not worth mentioning or is the oil spill now a crisis forgotten? President Marcos wants to “incorporate and strengthen science-based analysis” in the fisheries sector, but this is a contradiction to the real state of affairs in the oil spill-affected waters of the Verde Island Passage. Last month, oil spill recovery operations were declared “completed” by the Philippine Coast Guard despite visible traces of oil on the coasts of Pola and Pinamalayan, and last July 20, the fishing ban in the entire Oriental Mindoro was lifted without transparency to fisherfolk, communities, and the consuming public on the basis of determining the safety of doing so. The President’s repeated assertion of a ‘whole of society’ approach in the face of challenges must also be afforded to an environmental catastrophe as terrible as this. The oil spill is a crisis far from done, and we continue to stand with impacted fisherfolk and communities.

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