Press Releases

Salceda says House prepared to enact supplemental appropriations to stave off suspected Mindoro oil spill; cites Guimaras supplemental budget

March 4th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) expressed confidence that his colleagues will support a supplemental budget for immediate action and recovery efforts as fears of widespread spillage from a sunken oil tanker carrying 800,000 liters of oil grow.

On February 28, as it sailed into rough seas off Naujan, Mindoro, the Princess Empress sank with its cargo of 800,000 litres (210,000 gallons) of industrial fuel oil.

“We are prepared to propose and enact a supplemental budget if it comes to that. If the President requests it, we will grant it. This is an event that could have devastating consequences to fish supply and tourism, and it will definitely affect hundreds of thousands of families if it gets out of hand,” Salceda said.

Salceda was principal author and chairman of the House appropriations committee during the enactment of House Bill No. 9358, which, among other things, granted at least P5.4 billion in supplemental appropriations to sectors affected by the Guimaras Oil Spill in 2006.

“I don’t think it will face significant resistance in either chamber,” Salceda added.

“What I think should happen is, the President assesses the resources within his disposal, and asks Congress for more if he doesn’t have enough in the budget to deal with an event like this.”

“In this particular instance, a supplemental budget would be perfectly understandable, given that no one can really anticipate an oil spill.”

Tourism, biodiversity, fisherfolks to be affected

Salceda said that among the sectors that will most likely be affected are the tourism sectors of Batangas, Marinduque, and Mindoro. Salceda said he is also “deeply concerned for the biodiversity and fisheries impacts of the oil spill.”

“This is a crisis waiting to unfold if we don’t get to contain this early. That area is very close to the Verde Island Passage, which has been declared as the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity. It is extremely critical for national and global fisheries.”

“The area is even a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, it’s alarming that there are already signs of a large-scale spill,” Salceda added, pointing to accounts of a strong smell coming from the seas, as well as photos from the Philippine Coast Guard indicating some oil in the water’s surface.

Salceda said that a potential aid package might involve assistance to affected fisherfolk, more funds for cleanup, restoration of marine biodiversity, and rehabilitation of affected tourism sites.

“We’ll see what PBBM asks for, if he does. But for now, better treat it as a potential national emergency. If it proves to be not as bad as we fear, that’s good news.”

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