PCG charges energy firm over oil spill in Iloilo City waters

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — Authorities on Saturday said they had filed a complaint against a thermal energy company for the oil spill incident in Iloilo City over a week ago.

The Philippine Coast Guard said that it sued Ayala-owned AC Energy, Inc., its president John Eric Francia and Power Barge 102 plant manager Roberto Gambito. The case was filed with the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Friday for violation of Section 107 of the Fisheries Code.

Under Section 107, those found administratively liable for aquatic pollution may face closure of their business and be ordered to pay up to P500,000 and “an additional fine of P15,000 per day until the violation ceases and the fines are paid.”

The coast guard said in a statement that Commander Joe Mercurio of the Coast Guard Station–Iloilo, and their legal affairs team “found sufficient evidence to prove the negligence” of the firm and the two other respondents over the July 3 incident where around 48,000 liters of oil spilled into waters after AC Energy's Power Barge 102 in Lapuz district's Barrio Obrero exploded.

The PCG reported that the explosion contaminated the coastal areas of approximately 23 communities in Iloilo City, municipality of Dumangas, and Guimaras as well as a one-hectare mangrove forest.

The blast also displaced hundreds of families or 400 residents, the PCG added.

PCG Commandant, Vice Admiral George Ursabia, Jr. said that rehabilitation of the affected forest and communities is still ongoing. About 72 percent of the oil has been recovered while the shoreline cleanup is 15-percent complete.

Dr. Rex Sadaba of the University of Visayas advised PCG’s marine protection unit to wait for the spilled oil at the mangrove stems to dry first, the agency said.