Iloilo oil spill sparks calls to limit use of fossil fuels

(CNN PHL)

AC Energy is facing severe penalty and fine for the Iloilo oil spill under Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

This, as several groups have expressed fear that failure to contain the oil spill may lead to an environmental disaster damaging coastal communities in Iloilo and nearby provinces.

An oil spill is one of the worst man-made disasters.  Aside from exposing communities to serious health risks and potentiallycausing long-term job loss or livelihood, its impact on the environment is severe as it threatens not only marine life but marine and coastal habitats.

Under the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, upon the recommendation of the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), the fine for causing water pollution is computed for every day of violation range from P10,000 to P200,000.

DENR Undersecretary Benny  D. Antiporda, the deputy spokesman of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, earlier said a notice of violation will be issued to AC Energy, a unit of the Ayala Corp., for the oil spill.  Nevertheless, he said via text message on Tuesday that the computation of the fine to be slapped against the company begins on July 3, Day 1 of the spill.

AC Energy is now stepping up to contain the oil spill.  Around 48,000 liters of its Power Barge 102 in Lapuz, Iloilo, was spilled following an explosion.

AC Energy said 63 families were relocated to safer ground as they moved to put in place an oil boom to prevent the oil from reaching the shores.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) warned that if not contained immediately, the oil spill may reach major fishing grounds in the Visayas, threatening the livelihood of hundreds, if not thousands of small fishermen.

In particular, Pamalakaya said the oil spill should not reach the Guimaras Strait and the Visayan Sea where small fishermen from the Guimaras Island, Negros Occidental, Masbate, and Eastern and Western Visayas sail to catch fish.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairman said in a statement: “We don’t want the repeat of the Guimaras oil spill that did not only literally paint the waters black, but devastated the marine environment and economic lives of thousands of fisherfolk,” referring to the Guimaras oil spill of 2006, which was considered as the worst oil spill in the country’s history.

Last, Hicap said AC Energy should pay for the damage and shoulder the cleanup cost of the massive oil spill.

Greenpeace, Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment and Power for the People Coalition (P4P) have expressed grave concern over the incident.

Khevin Yu, Greenpeace Philippines campaigner, said communities shouldn’t have to suffer from fossil-fuel-based energy and its local impacts.

“Beyond a cleanup, we are asking power companies to rethink their businesses to immediately shift to RE sources and phase out their oil and coal facilities,” said Yu.

According to Yu, RE sources, such as solar and wind, have already been shown to be safer and cheaper and are the solution to the climate emergency.

These are also readily available, abundant, and do not require importation. Replacing fossil fuels with RE will lead us to a low-carbon future and a better normal.

“This oil spill will have lasting effects on the marine environment and communities. As a response, the government should ensure that the centerpiece of the country’s post-pandemic recovery plan is an urgent and just transition to 100-percent renewable energy power generation,” he said.

For his part, Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE said “the oil spill in Iloilo is the latest evidence of how fossil fuel energy sources bear too much risk of ecological damages in a disaster-prone country such as the Philippines.”

“Immediately, the DENR should impose stricter regulations and stiffer penalties on fossil fuel power facilities. In the long run, they should be serious in weaning away our economy from dirty fossil fuels towards cleaner and renewable energy systems,” he said.

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