We are saddened by the damage inflicted on God’s creation by the oil spill from the sinking of MT Princess Empress on 28 February 2023, as 900,000 liters of industrial oil now pollutes the waters of the Verde Island Passage. Over two million Filipinos depend on the bounty of the seas threatened by the spreading oil from the sunken ship. Their food, livelihood, and future are in peril.
We ask the government to exhaust all efforts to urgently contain the spill and halt any further damage to the precious and thriving life in our seas, and our people in coastal communities.
We urge them to ensure that those responsible for this catastrophe be held accountable under our laws. Our people, who through no fault of their own are now exposed to loss of income, health risks, and environmental degradation should be supported both by the government and the companies who own the vessel and the fuel it carried. Our seas should be cleaned up at the soonest possible time and in the most thorough manner possible by all relevant government agencies.
Finally, our future must be secured from such a disaster happening again by ensuring all laws on ship safety and environmental protection are enforced, and made even more stringent against vessels carrying polluting fossil fuels.
The Verde Island Passage is the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world, a marvel of God’s creation. It is not a mere highway for ships with toxic cargo – it is the home to a complex and beautiful ecosystem that produces fish for our plates and brings in tourists by the thousands. We humans have been entrusted with the task of becoming stewards of the Earth. Let our government take the lead in this crisis to show the way to protect and preserve our remaining wonders.
*The Social Action Network is composed of 86 diocesan social action centers in the Philippines.