THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) heeded the call to help the families and individuals who are gravely affected by the massive oil spill in the waters of Oriental Mindoro by joining a relief-giving mission on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
The state-run gaming agency distributed 6,000 food and non-food packs to 3,000 recipients in the town of Pola. Most locals in said town only rely on fishing as their source of livelihood. Pola was reported as the most affected among the 14 municipalities of the province after oil slicks from the sunken MT Princess Empress reached their shorelines and continue to deprive them of their livelihood and food supply.
Princess Go, president of the organizer of the mission, NextGen Foundation Philippines Inc. (NGFPI), said they requested aid from various sources to help the distressed families of Pola as soon as reports came out that the town is suffering heavily from the effects of the oil spill. Pagcor was one of the agencies that they approached for relief assistance.
“We really needed all the help we can get to provide relief to those who were affected by this unfortunate incident. Thankfully, Pagcor agreed to partner with us to make this humanitarian event happen,” she stated.
Pola Municipal Mayor Jennifer Cruz led the distribution of the relief items to the beneficiaries at the town’s public market. She was joined in the activity by key Pagcor officers headed by VP for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor and Asst. VP for Community Relations and Services Eric Balcos and representatives from NextGen and Oceanus Conservation.
Fifty-year-old Annabel Fabula, village chief of distant Barangay Buhay na Tubig, related that life had been extremely difficult for her constituents since fishing is temporarily banned in the areas devastated by the oil spill. With no other alternative source of livelihood, the residents of the community have been relying mostly on aid from the local government and various organizations for more than three weeks now to get by with their daily needs. The remote village, which can only be accessed through a 40-minute boat ride from the town proper, has a total population of over 1,000.
“Napakahirap po ng aming kalagayan mula nang pansamantalang ipagbawal ang pangingisda na siyang isa sa mga pangunahing pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan ng napakaraming pamilya dito sa aming lugar. Mabuti na lamang po at maraming tumutulong sa amin,” said the local official of the community, whose several residents help out in a daily cleanup operation supervised by a private company and Philippine Coast Guard personnel to wash away the slicks of oil that reached their shoreline.