A party-list lawmaker on Monday said the owner of the barge carrying petroleum products that blew up off Iloilo City should pay for the environmental degradation caused by the spill and the economic losses that it caused on coastal communities.
Rep. Michael Defensor of Anakalusugan, also a former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, said: “We are also counting on the operator of the power barge – AC Energy Corp. – to pay for the cleanup of the spill.”
“The Oil Pollution Compensation Law of 2007, or Republic Act 9483, imposes strict liability for oil pollution damage and guarantees adequate reparation for adversely affected populations, especially those that depend on fishing and seashell harvesting,” Defensor said.
Under the law, Defensor said owners of vessels that “cause pollution damage or create a grave and imminent threat of causing such damage,” are liable for several offenses.
These include, he said, expenses actually incurred in clean-up operations at sea or on shore; costs incurred for preventive measures and further loss or damage caused by such preventive measures; consequential loss or loss of earnings suffered by owners or users of property contaminated or damaged as a direct result of the spill; pure economic loss or loss of earnings sustained by people, even if the property tainted or spoiled by the slick does not belong to them; damage to human health or loss of life as a direct result of the incident; and environmental damage and other reasonable measures of restoration.
“These liabilities are apart from whatever fines may be imposed by the Pollution Adjudication Board on AC Energy for violations of the Clean Water Act of 2004,” Defensor said.
After the cleanup, AC Energy is also expected to rehabilitate the coastal ecosystem ravaged by the spill, Defensor said.
A blast ruptured Power Barge 102’s fuel oil storage tank Friday, spilling some 251,000 liters of petroleum by Saturday morning in the waters off Iloilo’s Barangay Barrio Obrero, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.
Private suppliers like AC Energy have been deploying power barges –self-contained, floating power plants – to help address recurring electricity shortages in the Visayas grid.