Disaster response teams clean up oil spill collected along the coast of Barangay Semirara in Caluya, Antique on March 7, 2023. — PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD 

ENVIRONMENTAL groups and scientists on Monday called for more timely updates and comprehensive sample testing on the oil slick in coastal areas in Oriental Mindoro, which is necessary for making recovery plans.     

Jerwin G. Baure, resident marine scientist of the group Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), said in a media briefing that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) should be testing sediments aside from water and fish samples.  

He pointed out that organisms such as sea cucumbers, which residents also eat, consume sediments that may be affected by the oil spill.  

Mr. Baure added that the timely release of results is crucial as fisherfolk depend on marine waters for their income.   

If the government releases timely results, fisherfolk will know when they can return to their livelihood or at least plan for alternative livelihoods that can be offered to residents,he said. 

Citing residents and experts, he said the oil spill clean-up may take at least six months. 

The tanker MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil, sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28.   

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Brigada Kalikasan, a coalition of green groups, shows that affected communities feel that the assistance they have received was not enough to cover their average income loss of P7,500 per month. 

Norie Labay, the head of one of the affected villages, said residents are still confused over the intricate process of getting compensation and they do not know the governments long-term recovery plan.    

“Until now, we do not know the plan of the government,she said in mixed English and Filipino. We do not fully understand, the residents are confused how we can get claims.  

The survey covered 400 respondents in four coastal communities in the towns of Pola and Calapan in Oriental Mindoro.  

Jordan M. Froda, coordinator at the Center for Environmental Concerns, said 87% of the respondents in Pola also reported being exposed to the oil slick through inhalation and 55% in Calapan.   

About 31,292 families or 141,988 individuals from 122 barangays in the Mimaropa region have been affected by the oil spill incident, according to data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development as of March 14. Sheldeen Joy Talavera