The sun sets over the Sulu sea in the Philippines. The sun sets over the Sulu sea in the Philippines.   (AFP or licensors)

Philippine government, shipping companies partner for oil spill prevention

The head of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources meets with local ship owners and agrees to work together in preventing future oil spills in the country.

By Zeus Legaspi

The Secretary of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, has said that ship owners in the Philippines have agreed to collaborate with her office to address gaps in oil spill prevention.

In a statement released on Friday, Loyzaga stated that the DENR and the ship owners will establish a technical working group that will develop policies and review legislation that requires updating.

Loyzaga emphasized that the way people think about disasters must change, with more emphasis placed on prevention than response.

She said, "We need to prevent the risk, and that needs to be translated into the policies, processes, and technical capacities of the people who are actually implementing these laws."

During the meeting, several inconsistencies were identified, including the classification of ships and the number of permits granted for specific purposes.

"I have discussed with them the importance of identifying gaps organizationally, functionally, legally, and policy- and practice-wise so that we can prevent another oil spill from happening again," Loyzaga reassured.

The DENR Secretary said her department has also been collaborating with local and national government agencies to mitigate and prevent oil spills in Philippine waters.

Disaster at sea

On 28 February, a tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil sank off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, causing an oil spill that exposed residents in the area to health hazards and ruined their livelihood.

A report from the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) said that almost 90% of residents in the oil spill-affected communities rely on the resources of the sea for livelihood.

More recently, on 6 May, the Philippine Coast Guard reported another oil spill in Bataan after a Sierra Leone-flagged dredger collided with another foreign vessel in Corregidor.

The vessel, named MV Hong Hai, capsized on 28 April, leaving one Filipino and two Chinese crew members dead.

The MV Hong Hai spilled around 50 liters of fuel and mixed substances into the surrounding waters after it sank. 

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08 May 2023, 16:24