Coast Guard sues Ayala's AC Energy over Iloilo oil spill
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has filed criminal complaints against Ayala firm AC Energy and the company's executives over a recent oil spill in Iloilo City that displaced 400 people.
The PCG filed complaints of aquatic pollution or violation of Section 107 of Republic Act No. 10654 or the Fisheries Code, which imposes a penalty ranging from P300,000 to P500,000 on those found with an administrative liability ipon a summary hearing.
Upon conviction, the penalty is imprisonment of 6 to 12 years.
"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," the PCG said on Saturday, July 11.
The PCG said that on July 3, AC Energy's Power Barge 102 "exploded," contaminating coastal areas of 23 communities in Iloilo City, Dumangas, and Guimaras, as well as a one-hectare mangrove forest.
"It also displaced hundreds of families or 400 locals who peacefully reside in the said areas when the incident occurred," it said.
Aquatic pollution is defined by law as "the introduction by human or machine, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy to the aquatic environment which result or is likely to result in such deleterious effects as to harm living and non-living aquatic resources."
The PCG said it is working "double time" to rehabilitate the affected flora and fauna in the areas and restore the safe and living conditions of nearby residents.
“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," said the PCG.
AC Energy has yet to issue an official statement on the PCG announcement as of posting.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, AC Energy said that “experts and volunteers have been working round-the-clock to clean-up and mitigate the environmental impact of the spill, rebuild the coastline and most importantly, allow the residents to go back to their homes.”
“Apart from the coordinated efforts with government agencies and leading maritime service provider, Harbor Star, as well as the assistance of several industry players, hundreds of volunteers have stepped up to help remediate the effects of the spill,” it said.
The company added that close to 400 personnel were part of the team conducting clean-up operations and rehabilitation. – Rappler.com