Manila, March 24, 2023—The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional Php 10 million ($183,700) worth of assistance to the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro to support oil spill management and environmental assessment in response to the recent sinking of the tanker MT Princess Empress.
In a visit to Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro on March 23 and 24, USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn announced that the additional support will be used to train fisherfolk displaced by the fishing ban so they can deploy as citizen scientists to conduct coastal habitat assessments in the province. Through its partnership with the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., USAID will also assess and monitor the impact of the oil spill on the coastal communities in the Verde Island Passage.
During his visit, USAID Philippines Mission Director Washburn handed over the first batch of personal protective equipment, hygiene kits, and spill cleaning supplies to Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor and observed ongoing cleanup and assessment activities in the municipality of Pola.
“Many communities in the province depend on the tourism and fisheries industries for their livelihoods, and we know that this makes the recent oil spill in your waters an even bigger crisis,” said USAID Philippines Mission Director Washburn. “As your enduring friend, partner, and ally, the United States remains committed to support your journey to recovery, and to continue our partnership toward the protection and conservation of this region’s rich coastal and marine resources.”
“We wish to thank the American people for this timely assistance as we continue to face this environmental crisis,” said Governor Dolor. “Rest assured that the provincial government will maximize the resources of the government and donations from partners like USAID and the private sector to reach as many families as we can to the best and most efficient way possible.”
The U.S. government is actively assisting the Philippines’ response to the oil spill. At the request of the Philippine government, a team of experts from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration arrived in Oriental Mindoro on March 21 to assist in assessing affected areas and provide subject matter expertise on effective methods to contain and clean up the spill.
The U.S. government has also provided satellite imagery and modeling applications to help the Philippine Coast Guard and the University of the Philippines-Marine Sciences Institute estimate the trajectory of the spill.
Earlier this month, through its partnership with the World Food Program, USAID supported the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development in transporting 20,000 food packs for families affected by the oil spill.