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Batangas site of 5 oil spills from July to October – WWF

November 12, 2006

THREE months after the oil spill caused by the ill-fated tanker MT Solar I in central Philippines, shipping officials have apparently failed to learned their lessons until now, an environmental advocacy group said Saturday.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) lamented this as it claimed that at least five oil spills took place off Batangas from July to October this year.

“Although the series of Batangas slicks were minor compared to Guimaras, they continued one after the other, and no ship or company was identified, nor held to task,” WWF said in its website.

It added that, “If this environmental crime goes unpunished in a highly-visible sea lane located so close to Manila, one wonders about the dozens of other channels, passes and straits that criss-cross the remotest portions of our archipelago.”

Citing information reaching it, WWF said the oil spills happened at Maricaban Strait, which includes the world-famous diving destination Anilao, Batangas.

Maricaban has four marine sanctuaries and is home to charismatic marine species such as dolphins, manta rays and hawksbill turtles.

Aside from providing livelihood for hundreds of small fishermen, it is an internationally renowned tourism destination with about 40 dive sites, WWF said.

WWF said the first spill incident was reported last July 18 in front of Eagle Point Resort (EPR) in Bagalangit village in Mabini. Resort staff responded and swiftly cleaned the oil debris.

A second spill occurred September 9, in Sepoc Beach, Maricaban village in Tingloy. Coast Guard units immediately conducted an inspection of the area as EPR staff cleaned the oil.

In October, oil was found from Layag-Layag Reef to Sepoc Beach. Again, PCG units conducted an inspection as EPR staff cleaned the area.

One week later, more oil was found in popular diving sites including Kirby’s Rock and Bahay Kambing in Caban Island, Tingloy.

Local police and Bantay Dagat volunteers inspected the area but found no evidence linking the spill to a barge at the site.

The next day, fishermen reported seeing another oil slick near Mainit village.

“This series of spills have been attributed to local ships discharging bilge oil – a mixture of water, used oil and other residual pollutants. Dumping oil in the ocean is cheaper than disposing of it properly. It is illegal, deliberate and, apparently, a common practice in the Philippines,” WWF said.

It said a study by the US National Research Council concluded that 46 percent of the oil entering the oceans comes from marine transportation through accidents or deliberate discharge. (GMANews.TV, Nov. 11, 2006)

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