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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Speaker Romualdez vows to help secure P200M in cash aid, other forms of assistance, for Oriental Mindoro fisherfolks affected by oil spill
20 September 2023 04:30:11 PM

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez today assured fishermen affected by the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro that the House of Representatives will help secure P200 million in direct cash assistance for some 8,000 fishermen who lost all sources of livelihood as a result of the man-made disaster.

Speaker Romualdez, leader of the 311-strong House of Representatives, met with the leaders of the fishermen’s group in his office after he was informed by House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas that the group was seeking the Speaker’s intervention to help alleviate their plight.

Also present during the meeting were Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Sandro Marcos, and Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo.

The fishermen, who trooped to the Speaker’s office all the way from Oriental Mindoro, were accompanied by their lawyer who is helping affected residents seek remuneration from the owners of the motor tanker Princess Empress.

The M/V Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of fuel oil, sank in the waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28, affecting nearby municipalities and provinces.

The massive oil spill that resulted reportedly affected 193,436 individuals from regions of CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Western Visayas.

The National Bureau of Investigation has already recommended the filing of charges against the owners and crew members of Princess Empress as well as officials and personnel of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Based on the NBI’s findings, RDC Reield Marine Services, the owner of the tanker, received undue benefits by registering the vessel despite submitting falsified documents and failing to meet the standard requirements.

Speaker Romualdez told the leaders of the fishermen’s group that his office is committed to securing funds from the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for distribution of P24,000 each for the 8,000 Oriental Mindoro fishermen affected by the oil spill.

The TUPAD fund is allocated by Congress annually in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to provide livelihood support to disadvantaged and displaced Filipino workers.

“Panimulang tulong lang ito na sapat sa dalawang buwan. Sa loob ng panahong ito, hahanap tayo ng paraan para makakuha naman ng pondo para sa mga alternative livelihood programs ninyo habang nililinis pa ang oil spill,” Speaker Romualdez said.

“Kung kukulangin pa ito, tutulong din ang iba pang kasama ko dito sa House of Representatives para magtuloy-tuloy ang ayuda sa inyo habang hindi pa kayo nakakabangon. Gagawin natin ang lahat para makabangon kayo sa trahedyang ito,” he added.

Speaker Romualdez shared his experiences in disaster recovery as a victim of the Super-typhoon Yolanda years ago, saying: “In moments like these, Filipinos are always ready to lend a helping hand to their kababayans.”

He cited the private donations that poured into Tacloban at the time, including fishing boats and livelihood packages.

“Kung kailangan ninyo ng bangka, tutulong din ako na humanap ng mga donors para sa inyo. Sila ang mga tumulong sa amin noon sa Yolanda at naging susi kaya nakabangon agad kami,” he pointed out. (END)