House urged to probe Iloilo oil spill

Published September 5, 2020, 7:06 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The House Committee on Ecology has been urged to look into the reported oil spill in Barrio Obrero, Iloilo City which resulted to oil contamination of the neighboring shorelines and evacuation of hundreds of affected residents. 

Negros Oriental 1st District Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichiong filed House Resolution No. 1153 urging the panel, chaired by Zamboanga del Norte 2nd District Rep. Glona Labadlabad, to look into the July 3 incident wherein Power Barge 102 located in Zone 3, Barrio Obrero, Iloilo City discharged fuel oil with an estimated volume of 268,000 liters. 

“It is apparent that there should be well-defined protocols and rules of engagement in handling and managing incidents of this nature to mitigate on the environment and the communities,” she said. 

She said the Labadlabad panel should investigate whether appropriate response and mitigation measures were implemented following the incident. 

Under HR No. 1153, Limkaichong, vice chairperson of the House Committee of Appropriations and a member of the House Committee on Ecology, sought the crafting of “adequate, responsive, and comprehensive” legislation on the possible institutionalization of protocols, and rules of engagement in handling and managing such incidents.

Citing reports, she said the discharge was attributable to the ignition of fuel oil in storage which ruptured PB 102’s fuel tank. 

PB 102 is owned by AC Energy Philippines, Inc (ACEPH), and is operated and maintained by Bulacan Power Generation Corporation (BPGC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ACEPH, she said.

“Oil recovery and oil clean-up activities were reported to have been undertaken by ACEPH and BPGC in coordination with local government units, other government agencies, various stakeholders, and industry partners, third party contractors, and volunteers to mitigate the impact of the oil spill, ensure the restoration and rehabilitation of the affected areas, and address the needs and concerns of the affected residents,” Limkaichiong noted. 

She said based on the latest available reports, about 261,000 liters of 97 percent of the spilled oil have been recovered, while majority of the coastal areas affected by fugitive oil have also even cleaned with only a few areas remaining. 

“Moreover, the affected residents have safely returned to their homes on July 18, 2020 after they were temporarily evacuated to several hotels in Iloilo City. During the period that the residents were in the hotels, they were provided food, medicine and other necessities. Private and city health doctors and nurses were available to assist the relocated families with their medical needs,” the House leader said. 

She expressed hope that the Labadlabad committee will promptly look into the incident to pave the way for the enactment of protocol and rules of engagement in handling and managing related incidents in the future.