The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has assured that the owners of the MV Racal IV that sank off the town of Jasaan will take full responsibility for the oil spill incident in Misamis Oriental last April 3.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) has held a meeting with the shipowners to demand them to shoulder the full cost of damages brought about by the incident.

"The incident should serve as a lesson for business owners to take full responsibility for the damages brought about by their operations near the country’s rich ecosystems," Cimatu said, citing the report from EMB-Region 10 Director Reynaldo Digamo submitted to the DENR Central Office.

Digamo held the meeting with vessel owners Sherwin Doctora and Lord Sanny Salvaña, together with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the local government of Jasaan last April 13.

"It was agreed upon in the meeting that the owners should compensate all the expenses, including the cleanup activities, as well as the transportation of the contaminated debris to the accredited treatment, storage, and disposal facility," Digamo said in his report.

In the report, Digamo emphasized that the owners should also be accountable for the environmental damage the incident has caused and the lost opportunity of the fishermen and other stakeholders.

The EMB-Region 10 has also conducted ambient water sampling in the five affected barangays namely, Lower Jasaan, Upper Jasaan, Luz Banzon, Kimaya, and Solana, to assess the water quality, which includes dissolved oxygen, oil and grease, pH, and temperature as parameters.

Based on the test results, it showed that the concentrations of ammonia, color, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, oil and grease, pH, phosphates, and total suspended solids and temperature are all within the Water Quality Guidelines for Class SC Water pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 2016-08.

Class SC water body includes Fishery Water Class III, which is intended for the propagation and growth of fish and other aquatic resources, and intended for commercial and sustenance fishing.

"We commend the people behind this successful dialogue with our stakeholders to ensure that the oil spill will be controlled and thoroughly cleaned to protect our vast oceans and seas," Cimatu said.

As of its April 6 report, the PCG said it has recovered approximately 80 percent of the oil spill including oil-contaminated debris and materials along the shorelines of the affected areas, declaring that the situation is "already under control." ###