On February 28, 2023, the oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress brought devastating effects not only to the nearby communities but also to Marine Protected Areas in Oriental Mindoro.
On March 20, 2023, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Batangas Station confirmed that the oil spill from sunken MT Princess Empress has reached the province of Batangas.
In response, the DENR CALABARZON immediately formed an Oil Spill Response Team as frontliners in addressing issues concerning the oil spill. Coordination meetings were also conducted with the PCG, Biodiversity Management Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, and Local Government Units for a collaborative effort in preventing further damage.
Meanwhile, DENR CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Nilo B. Tamoria assures continuous effort to prevent and contain the spread of oil spill in Batangas. He said "Kaugnay po ng isyu ng oil spill sa Mindoro ay patuloy po ang ating pakikipag ugnayan sa iba't ibang ahensya at lokal na komunidad upang maghanda sa anumang magiging epekto nito at ibsan ang pagkalat nito sa ating katubigan. Patuloy din po ang ating monitoring sa probinsya ng Batangas partikular na sa Verde Island Passage."
DENR Field Offices - PENRO Batangas, CENRO Lipa, and CENRO Calaca closely monitor the issue along with the LGUs and Bantay Dagat members. Identified affected areas being monitored include Batangas City (Isla Verde) and Tingloy (Maricaban Island).
Based on the day-to-day monitoring of the OSR Team, a total of 240 liters of waste oil, 36 liters of tar balls, 1,083 kg of contaminated debris, and 10 pieces of absorbent pads were collected from the area as of April 3, 2023.
The result of water quality samples taken by EMB4A from Verde Island shows an SB II level. Class SB II is a DENR classification for coastal areas and marine waters which serves as spawning areas for Chanos chanos or “ Bangus” and similar species. Water quality monitoring was also conducted in Tingloy, Anilao, and Mabini, Batangas, and is still awaiting results.
Meanwhile, no sightings of the oil spill were observed in the neighboring LGUs under the jurisdiction of CENRO Calaca (Taal, San Luis, Lemery, Calaca City, Balayan, Calatagan, Lian, and Nasugbu) and CENRO Lipa (Lobo, Bauan, Mabini, San Pascual, San Juan, Batangas City, and Tingloy). Despite such, regular patrolling of coastal areas was undertaken while continuous fabrication of oil spill booms was conducted by the coastal communities ready for deployment in case of emergency.
Further, DENR CALABARZON calls for continued collaboration of National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, and communities to prevent further impacts of the oil spill both to the environment and the livelihood of the people. ###