THE United States government has committed to provide assistance in the clean-up of the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro brought about by a sunken oil tanker, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Galvez said he got the commitment from US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that they will deploy naval units and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) team to help in the clean-up operation in the area.

“In fact, as I’ve recommended, some of the exercise scenarios of the forthcoming ‘Balikatan’ Exercises will be ‘real life’ and actual HADR operations relative to the oil spill,” he said.

Galvez said they will also continue to seek the expertise and technical support of other partner countries such as France and the United Kingdom, in containing the oil spill.

As of Monday, March 20, a total of 32,661 families were affected by the oil spill in Mimaropa and Western Visayas.

So far, P28.3 million worth of humanitarian assistance from the government, local government units, non-governmental organizations, and other partners, was already provided to the affected families.

“We will sustain this assistance to them,” Galvez said.

Japanese experts earlier arrived in the country to help manage the effects of the oil spill.

Japanese salvage vessel Shin Nichi Maru, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), was deployed in Oriental Mindoro to help in the clean-up efforts.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier ordered different government agencies to carry out programs aimed at assisting the local population affected by the oil spill.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is currently implementing a 45-day cash-for-work program involving 7,198 families. Beneficiaries could also avail themselves of Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) and family food packs (FFPs).

The Department of Labor and Employment, on the other hand, has started the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad) program in Sibolo, Semirara and Tinogboc in Caluya.

The MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil, sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on February 28 due to engine failure. (SunStar Philippines)