Oil leak reaches Verde Island – PhilSa
BY JANINE ALEXIS MIGUEL
The Manila Times
THE Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) released satellite images on Tuesday showing that the oil leak from the sunken MT Princess Empress tanker has reached the Verde Island passage between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro. “Oil was also detected near the coast of Calima and along the base of Mount Dumali. A small, discrete patch of oil was also detected near Verde Island. In total, the oil slick covers an area of approximately 162.60 square kilometers,” the agency said. The agency also presented an image trajectory of the oil leak from March 3 to March 23. The image captured on March 23 exhibits the widest range, as recorded by the agency’s satellite, at 112 square kilometers. “This map shows possible oil spill extent in the coast of Oriental Mindoro as observed from Sentinel-2 image captured on March 23, 2023,” PhilSA stated, adding that the map is still subject to field validation. PhilSA Deputy Director-General for Space Science and Technology Dr. Gay Jane Perez pointed out that the latest satellite image is almost the size of Quezon City. PhilSA Space Mission Control and Operations Division Senior Science Research Specialist Jamaica Pangasinan added that the leak could reach the municipalities of San Jose, Calapan and Dulangan, as traces of oil can be seen near these areas. Part of PhilSA’s mandate under Republic Act 11363 or the “Philippine Space Act” is improved public access and resource sharing, in which PhilSA is to assist the government and the private sectors in delivering public service through the use of space assets. “Satellite imagery can be used to map large areas from a different vantage point, and aid in making science-based decisions. These maps could be used to complement the efforts of various government agencies and other institutions to aid in the government’s oil spill response,” said engineer Roel de la Cruz, PhilSA Space Data Mobilization and Applications Division OICchief and supervising science research specialist. Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco stated on Monday that affected frontline tourism workers will be subjected to capacity development and skills training programs in order to prepare and offer them alternative means of income following the oil spill incident in Mindoro. “At this point, it’s really about ensuring that our tourism frontline workers, even if they are not able to work for a few days or weeks because of the oil spill, we are able to provide them with alternative sources of livelihood, and that is why we will be providing trainings to them, not just specifically focused on their present work but on alternative types of work,” Frasco said. Frasco said that she has already instructed the Tourism department’s regional offices in Mimaropa and Western Visayas to gather all of the names of the affected tourism workers and have them endorsed to the Department of Labor and Employment in order to take advantage of the assistance under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers program. “Per our monitoring, almost 63 tourism sites are affected by the oil spill and up to 1,000 tourism workers. It also includes community-based tourism. And so, we are monitoring this very closely, and I’ve already directed the regional offices to craft a recovery action plan so that we can provide guidance for the affected tourism stakeholders and be sure to provide social protection,” Frasco added.