Cordova town Councilor Angeles Pogoy-Gairanod did not mince words during a forum on the oil spill crisis off the coast of Cebu and Mactan island. “Where is Sulpicio?” she asked.
The forum focused on a lecture by Dr. Resurreccion ‘Rex’ Sadaba, an oil spill expert from the University of the Philippines Visayas.
The oil that reached Cordova town had leaked from the sunken MV St. Thomas Aquinas that was rammed by the MV Sulpicio Express Siete off the port of Cebu two weeks ago.
The tragedy has so far caused 94 deaths and 40 mission. Some 733 passengers and crew members of MV. St. Thomas Aquinas survived.
While 2GO Group Inc., the owner of MV St. Thomas Aquinas had been helping daily the efforts to arrest the ill-effects and mitigate the impact of the oil spill on affected coastal communities, representatives of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation commonly known as Sulpicio shipping had been obviously absent.
The 2GO Group, which had contracted experts including Dr. Sadaba, had been highly visible daily in its support for the efforts of the affected coastal communities.
Cebu Gov. Junjun Davide and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama had earlier noted the absence of Sulpicio representatives during the rescue efforts and the oil spill cleanup.
A Capitol representative said Sulpicio representatives were not there during all the coordination meetings unlike 2GO officials which have been facing not only officials but also ordinary affected folks.
Nevertheless, the oil spill crisis is not as alarming as what has been pictured so far.
According to Dr. Sadaba, the oil spill crisis in Cebu is not as severe and alarming compared to what happened in Guimaras in 2006. The oil came from 120,000 liters carried by the ill-fated mv St. Thomas Aquinas that sank after it was rammed by the Sulpicio Express Siete at around 9 pm on August 16, 2013 at Lauis Ledge off Mactan island and the shores of Talisay City.
Dr. Sadaba, program manager of the Oil Spill Response Program of UP Visayas in Miagao, Iloilo, considered the oil spill situation in Cebu as a lot less alarming compared to what happened in Guimaras in 2006 in terms of volume of oil spilled.
While the Coast Guard has estimated some 120,000 liters now wreaking havoc in Cebu’s aquatic resources, the oil spill in Guimaras reached two million liters.
“What we have in Cebu is nothing compared to what happened in Guimaras,” said Dr. Sadaba as Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy listened along with other Cordova town and barangay officials, students, and members of the Cebu media.
During his lecture, Dr. Sadaba praised the local governments especially Gov. Junjun Davide and Mayor Sitoy in the organized response to the oil spill crisis. He recalled that two weeks after the oil spill in Guimaras, the cleanup efforts was disorganized.
Contracted by 2GO as a consultant who will scientifically guide clean up efforts, Dr. Sadaba urged local communities to to focus on areas outside the affected mangrove areas and on replacing booms that already absorbed oil.
He advised that interventions inside affected mangrove areas should be left to professionals. Aggressive community cleanup efforts inside affected mangrove areas will do more damage to the environment.
“Let us allow nature to heal itself,” Dr. Sadaba said.