President Bongbong Marcos has pledged to provide alternative livelihood options for the residents of Oriental Mindoro, recognizing that the cleanup of the oil slick off the province could take a considerable amount of time.
Marcos expressed this commitment during his visit Saturday to Pola, where he led the distribution of various government aid to more than 1,200 people impacted by the oil spill.
“Siguro baka matagalan pa (oil spill recovery). Kaya’t ang aming ginagawa ay sabi natin ay kailangan may hanapbuhay ang tao. Kaya’t nagpaplano kami, ‘yung mga livelihood na pwedeng dalhin at pwedeng buhayin,” Marcos said.
Marcos emphasized that the rehabilitation programs should not be seen as mere short-term aid, but rather as a means for residents to explore alternative livelihood options and reduce their heavy dependence on the sea for income. The goal is to establish sustainable livelihoods that will benefit the community in the long run, he said,
“Ang sabi ko nga sa kanila, ang livelihood program ay huwag para lang sa oil spill. Kahit na mawala na ‘yung oil spill, sana patuloy naman ‘yung livelihood program para ang mga residente ay meron namang option, meron namang pagkakataon na makasubok naman ng ibang hanapbuhay para makadagdag sa kinikita,” the President pointed out.
Marcos said that the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are among the primary agencies leading efforts to provide aid, livelihood assistance, seed money, and training to small business owners in the region.
Additionally, the Department of Labor and Employment, through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, has a number of plans for the province as part of its recovery initiatives, according to the President.
At least 26,382 fishermen in 14 localities in Oriental Mindoro and some parts of Antique were affected by the widespread oil spill. As of April 3, estimated income losses amounted to around P388.7 million for Oriental Mindoro.
The President, who earlier conducted an aerial survey of the areas affected by the massive spill, expressed his concern for the affected communities and pledged his administration’s support in addressing the situation.
“Kami ay nandito para inspeksiyunin ang tuloy-tuloy naming ginagawa para pagandahin ulit ang laot, para makapangisda ulit ang taga-Pola, ang taga-karatig na bayan dito sa Oriental Mindoro,” he said.
The President acknowledged the prompt response of various government units and agencies since the oil spill occurred, as he thanked the assistance that the country received from Japan, the United States, and other countries.
He emphasized the importance of the livelihood program to help the affected residents and urged everyone to continue supporting it even after the oil spill has been resolved to provide alternative options for earning a living.
Marcos assured that the national government is closely coordinating with all local government units affected by the oil spill and will continue to provide assistance until the affected areas are fully restored.
“Kaya po, asahan po ninyo na ang national government ay nandito po kaming lahat upang alalayan ang sitwasyon ninyo dito,” Marcos said.
“Asahan ninyo na hangga’t matapos ito ay nandito ang national government na tutulungan kayo para maibalik kayo sa dati ninyong gawi,” he said.
The President encouraged the residents to take advantage of the assistance provided by the government to restore the local fishing industry and to help the residents rebuild their lives.
He mentioned the motor supply, livelihood programs, and water supply system as some of the projects that will be implemented to address their needs.
The following are the equipment handed over by the President to the beneficiaries:
- 17 fishing boats with engine to the Province of Oriental Mindoro, of which seven (7) boats are for the Municipality of Pola
- 1 unit of post-harvest technology package (fish-smoking technology) worth PhP335,739.00 to Maasin Marine Protected Area Association in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro
- 1 unit of 65 HP tractor with implements to Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro
- 3 units of pump and engine to Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro and Mahabang Parang Farmers Association in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro
- 6 water pumps for the Municipalities of Pola, Naujan, and Pinamalayan in Oriental Mindoro
- 2.5 kilos of assorted vegetable seeds, 10 bags of black rice, two (2) bags of brown rice, 300 bags of certified palay seeds, and 300 corn seeds to the local government of Pola
The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel, causing a massive oil spill.