Bolinao to sue if town’s corals are “damaged”

STRANDED OIL TANKER

THE Bolinao government is set to file charges against the owner of the Chinese oil tanker that ran aground off the coastal waters in Barangay Patar once the town’s corals are confirmed to have been destroyed.

Mayor Alfonso Celeste said the municipal council already passed a resolution authorizing him to initiate filing of legal charges against MV Chematic if warranted. 

The vessel has 23 Chinese and three Myanmar nationals on board and it came from Brunei on its way to China when it encountered engine trouble on Dec. 8 in Patar.

“Our primary concern are the town’s corals that could have been destroyed by the vessel,” he said. A tugboat has arrived in the area ready to pull away from the vessel, he said.

According to Celeste, the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute that has a laboratory in the town is expected to evaluate extent of destruction once the vessel is pulled away. 

Meanwhile a check on the status of the MV Chematic by the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Quarantine last Friday showed the ship captain could not produce all the required documents. But he told the task group overseeing the investigation that he can produce all the documents in time. 

Celeste added the ship’s cargo of 15,471 tons of petroleum as declared by the ship captain has not been verified. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau’s team has checked the area on Saturday but it is the UPMSI that will assess possible damages.

“Habang tumatagal, siyempre nagagasgas yung mga corals doon, lumalaki yung damages na masisira sa coral reef namin,” Celeste said. The vessel is situated about 500 meters away from the shoreline.

Celeste said this is the third time that a foreign vessel ran aground in their coastal waters. The first one caused an oil spill while the second resulted in coral damage, he added. (PhilStar Wire Service/ECV)

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