PCG files criminal complaint vs AC Energy over oil spill in Iloilo
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has filed on Friday a criminal complaint against AC Energy Inc. and its concerned officers in relation to the oil spill incident in Iloilo last week.
Commodore Armando Balilo, PCG spokesman, said the legal team of PCG has filed a criminal case with the Office of the City Prosecutor, Iloilo City for violation of RA 8550 as amended by RA 10654 for aquatic pollution against AC Energy Inc. president and the plant nanager of PB 102.
"Commander Joe Mercurio of the Coast Guard Station ? Iloilo, together with the Coast Guard legal affairs team, found sufficient evidence to prove the negligence of said thermal energy company, its president, John Eric Francia, and Power Barge Number 102 plant manager Roberto Gambito that led to the oil spill incident in Iloilo City on 03 July 2020," he said.
"The explosion of Power Barge Number 102 contaminated the coastal areas of approximately 23 communities in Iloilo City, municipality of Dumangas, and Guimaras, as well as a one-hectare mangrove forest in Iloilo. It also displaced hundreds of families or 400 locals who peacefully reside in the said areas when the incident occurred," he added.
Balilo said the Section 107 of RA 8550 states that "upon a summary finding of administrative liability, the AC Energy Inc. and its concerned officers shall be punished with fine of P 300,000 ? P500,000 and an additional fine of P15,000 per day until the violation ceases and the fines are paid, the imposition of cease and desist order, closure or suspension of the development, construction or facility, or cessation of operations, or disconnection of water supply. The order may be issued ex parte pending resolution of the case."
Balilo said PCG Commandant, Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. assures that it will proactively perform further legal actions to ensure that justice will be served, while working double time on the recovery and rehabilitation efforts to restore safe living conditions for residents, and the aquatic flora and fauna in the vicinity waters of the most affected communities.
“Let this incident be a reminder to all industry stakeholders that even the slightest negligence can pose direct or indirect threat on the health and safety of the people, as well as living and non-living aquatic resources," Ursabia said.
"The PCG, as a law enforcement body in marine environmental protection, will ensure that the failure of one company serves as a relevant lesson to others. We need everyone’s cooperation to protect and conserve our limited marine resources,” he added.
According to the Marine Environmental Protection Unit (MEPU) in Western Visayas, the spilled oil recovery operation is 72 percent complete while shoreline clean-up is 15 percent complete.
Balilo said Harbor Star, the salvage operator, has hired 20 locals per affected barangay to gather oil contaminated debris.
"Dr. Rex Sadaba of UP ? Visayas advised PCG’s Marine Environmental Protection Unit in Western Visayas to refrain from touching the affected mangrove forest and wait for the spilled oil at the mangrove stems to dry," he said.
"Regular collection of contaminated debris has to be done outside the mangrove forest and along the coastlines only," he added. Robina Asido/DMS