ILOILO CITY—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-6) started its own probe on probable safety violations when a damaged power barge triggered an oil spill that affected mostly coastal communities in Iloilo City.
DOLE Western Visayas Director Cyril Ticao led the ocular inspection of the power barge owned by AC Energy Philippines.
“We strongly expect the barge owner [AC Energy] to cooperate with us,” Ticao said.
DOLE’s inspection team focused its probe based on what was stipulated in Republic Act No. 11058 or the new Occupational Safety and Health (OSH Law).
This was after bunker fuel leaked from Power Barge 102 last July 3 when its hull was torn by an explosion. The oil spill has spread to several coastal areas in nearby towns of Guimaras and Iloilo provinces.
An initial probe conducted by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) found that acetylene torch was used inside one of the power barge’s tanks where repair work was being done, and this allegedly ignited flammable fumes.
Ticao also said DOLE inspectors were also looking into complaints of alleged lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) among newly-hired workers for the cleanup operations in retrieving bunker fuel.
While Ticao cautioned it was still early to reach a conclusion, he urged AC Energy to reassess its own occupational and safety policies.