Today, March 22, is the celebration of World Water Day. Ironically, for many fisherfolks in the Philippines, particularly in Oriental Mindoro and the regions nearest to it, this month has proved itself to be the worst situation they have ever been in. A devastating oil spill happened last February 28, 2022 in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. 800,000 liters of crude oil have sunk in our ocean and damaged most of Pinamalayan and Pola, Oriental Mindoro’s marine and coastal ecosystems.
After almost a month of this human-induced disaster, hazardous contents from this incident have already affected 11 out of 13 municipalities of Oriental Mindoro. It has also reached valuable shores of Palawan, Antique, and the Verde Island Passage. Aside from that, local fisherfolks fear losing more than half of their marine protected areas along with more than 500-hectares of mangrove forest. This is a lived-proof of the harmful effects of fossil fuels and our dependence on it.
In line with this day’s supposed celebration of our waters, Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, urges the Philippine government to uphold the rights of the Filipino people for a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. We demand accountability from RDC Reield Marine Services, the company who owns the sunken MT Princess Empress – the ship that carried the containers holding crude oil. Face the families and communities affected by this neglect. RDC Reield Marine Services should pay up for losses and damages.
“What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.” (Laudato Si’ par. 160)
Now more than ever, we must amplify our calls to divest for our common home and invest in our future.