Oriental Mindoro oil spill

MT Princess Empress insured for $1 billion, says MARINA official


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MT Princess Empress insured for $1 billion, says MARINA official

Oriental Mindoro Governor Bonz Dolor and DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian conduct an ocular inspection at the shores of Brgy Zone 2, Pola, Oriental Mindoro, following a massive oil spill from a tanker off the coast of Naujan, on March 4, 2023.

Arjay Cleofe/PonD News Asia

RDC Reield Marine Services should file an insurance claim for the oil spill and help affected communities, MARINA spokesperson Sharon Aledo says

MANILA, Philippines – The oil tanker MT Princess Empress, which sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro with 800,000 liters of industrial oil, is insured for $1 billion which the ship owner should claim, a regulatory official said on Tuesday, March 7. 

In an interview on TV5, Sharon Aledo, spokesperson of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), said the MT Princess Empress, owned by RDC Reield Marine Services (RDC), is covered by a $1 billion Protection and Indemnity Insurance for “every incident” including an oil spill. 

Aledo said MARINA has met with the shipping company owners who told regulators that the ship was insured. She said RDC’s president is Reymundo Cabial, and the shipping company has a valid Certificate of Public Convenience for MT Princess Empress. (Editor’s note: Aledo had initially identified RDC’s president as Reynaldo Cabial. She later corrected herself on the first name of the company’s president in a subsequent radio interview with TV5. We have updated this article and corrected the name of the president.)

She said it was “incumbent” on the shipping company to file an insurance claim following the oil spill. 

MARINA regulates the Philippines’ maritime industry. Its mandate is to “lead a progressive maritime administration for safer people, safer ships, and cleaner environment.” 

Aledo said MT Princess Empress was en route to Iloilo from SL Gas Harbor Terminal in Limay, Bataan with 800,000 liters of industrial oil, also called “black oil.” 

A source in the energy sector told Rappler that “black oil” is “highly toxic to the environment.” The spill is already harming coastal areas in the provinces of Oriental Mindoro and Antique.

Aledo said MARINA has issued a show cause order to RDC to explain what happened. It has also suspended RDC’s safety certificate. 

She said authorities were still investigating what caused the tanker to sink after it reportedly encountered big waves. She said this would take time since the ship has sunk, making a physical inspection impossible for now.

She urged the shipping company to attend to the affected coastal communities since that is part of the responsiblity of the ship owner. 

On Monday, March 6, a high-ranking official of RDC finally participated in a closed-door meeting with government officials to offer assurances it would not evade responsibility.

During the meeting, Fritzie Tee, vice president for administration and external affairs of RDC, expressed “the company’s commitment to address the cleanup and containment of the oil spill,” according to a company press release on Monday afternoon.

RDC tapped two contractors to assist in the cleanup, both of which helped in the aftermath of the oil spill in Guimaras province in 2006, considered the worst in Philippine history. – with reports from Dwight de Leon/Rappler.com

LIST: Major oil spills in the Philippines

LIST: Major oil spills in the Philippines

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