Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday urged the private contractor hired to undertake clean-up operations of the oil spill in Estancia, Iloilo, to work double-time in order to contain the impact areas and keep environmental damage to a minimum.
Roxas advised local officials in Estancia to coordinate with regional officials of national government agencies to plan the permanent evacuation and resettlement to safer ground of families displaced by the oil spill.
“The three-month deadline imposed by the private contractor is not acceptable. The cleanup should be completed the soonest time possible,” Roxas said.
Roxas, along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, went to Estancia on Tuesday to look into the impact of the oil spill to affected communities and check the progress of the cleanup.
Because of the risks associated with exposure to oil spill, the Department of Health (DOH) recommended the immediate evacuation of 5,000 affected persons exposed to health risks from deadly fumes.
At least 446 families, or 1,892 persons, have been evacuated from Barangay Botongon who are now staying in classrooms and tents at Northern Iloilo Polytechnic College-West Campus about two kilometers from the oil-spill site.
The team of Gazmin, Roxas and Soliman were directed by Pres. Benigno Aquino 3rd early this week to check relief and recovery efforts in Western Visayas as the situation in Eastern Visayas starts to normalize.
The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) has contracted the Kuan Yu Global Technologies Inc. to siphon off the remaining oil from the tanker and to refloat the barge and tow it away. The work will cost P87 million.
On December 4, however, the coasts of Estancia remain covered with oil.
Roxas, the vice chair for disaster preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), expressed fears over the 1.2 million liters of bunker fuel oil that needs to be contained and immediately removed safely before it leaks out and causes further damage.
Dismayed by slow-paced manual cleanup being done in Estancia’s coastal barangays, Roxas wants the Napocor and local officials of Estancia to press the contractor to “shape up or ship out.”
He noted that the company hired to cleanup the oil spill evidently lack the manpower and equipment to do the job, resulting in its dismal performance.
About 200,000 liters of bunker fuel oil were spilt at the height of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiayan) when the Napocor power barge was slammed on the coasts of Estancia, causing the massive oil spill on November 8.