A spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard said that the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker (MT) Princess Empress off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro has not yet reached the offshore area of Verde Island in Batangas City.
Photo: Philippine Coast Guard / PCG
PCG spox: Verde Island's offshore area ‘negative’ for oil spill but...
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A spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Monday, March 20, that the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker (MT) Princess Empress off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro has not yet reached the offshore area of Verde Island in Batangas City.
“Negative sa oil spill ang Verde Island (Verde Island is negative for oil spill),” PCG spokesperson Armando Balilo told reporters around 5 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Captain Victorino Acosta, station commander of Coast Guard Station Batangas, confirmed that oil sheens, or the shiny and rainbow-colored particles which appear at the surface of the water due to an oil spill, were monitored on the coastal waters of Verde Island.
The PCG Marine Environmental Protection Command (MEPC) headed by Vice Adm. Robert Patrimonio conducted an aerial survey over Verde Island on the same day to assess the situation in the area.
Pressed for information on the results of the aerial survey, Balilo said that during the aerial inspection conducted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., "the Verde Island and its vicinity waters no longer have traces of an oil spill."
Reporters were quick to notice that the PCG used the words "no longer have traces," indicating that it previously had.
"To clarify this concern, PCG Station Batangas reported that they monitored traces of oil spill in three coastal barangays near Verde Island -- San Antonio, San Agustin, and San Agapito," Balilo said.
He noted that this was part of PCG Station Batangas' "shoreline operations," which covers only the coastal waters of Verde Island. He said the PCG Station Batangas collected approximately 230 liters of oil during the operation.
On the other hand, the aerial survey was part of the PCG's "offshore operations."
"Kapag offshore, sa gitnang dagat ang kino-cover natin (When we say offshore, we are covering the waters at the center [of the island]," explained PCG communications officer Diane Gumatay.
"Sa offshore lang negative pero base sa PCG Station Batangas, positive sa shoreline (It is only negative in the offshore but based on the PCG Station Batangas, its shoreline waters is positive [for oil spill]," she added.
The Verde Island Passage (VIP) – which covers the Verde Island, Calapan in Oriental Mindoro, and parts of Batangas province – has the “highest concentration of coastal fishes, corals, crustaceans, molluscs, seagrasses and mangroves,” according to experts from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI).
It is also “home to endangered and threatened species such as hawksbill turtle, whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, humphead wrasses, giant groupers, and giant clams,” the group added.