The Department of Tourism on Wednesday raised the alarm over 61 tourism sites—including beach resorts—that are affected by the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco raised this concern during the Tourism Stakeholders’ National Summit on Wednesday.

“It’s an ongoing collaborative effort to manage the situation that is led by the DENR (Department of the Environment and Natural Resources) and we are here to assist our tourism workers,” she added.

The oils spill from the sunken tanker MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel, has already affected 70 barangays in the region, and will surpass the devastation caused by the 2006 Guimaras oil spill, said Senator Cynthia A. Villar.

She pushed for assistance to residents who are affected by the oil spill of the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

Presiding the Committee on environment, natural resources, and climate change hearing, Villar asked resource persons from various government agencies what assistance they have provided so ar for the cleanup and containment of the oil spill, as well as the assistance given to affected residents, especially those who have lost their livelihoods.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Assistant Secretary Bernardo Alejandro updated the committee on the oil spill.

Villar said the oil spill will definitely damage the marine ecosystem and biodiversity; fisheries and food supply; livelihood of the people, especially fishers; the health of the people; and tourism.

Furthermore, the oil spill threatens around 21 locally-managed marine protected areas, including the Verde Island Passage, which is poised to become a legislated protected area as “the center of the global-shore fish biodiversity,” Villar said.

Senator Francis Escudero asked the Office of the Civil Defense and the NDRRMC to simplify their process to expedite the release of calamity funds to local government units (LGUs) that need immediate relief.

He noted the bureaucratic red tape cannot go on and the LGUs affected by the oil spill should not suffer the same fate of Sorsogon when it was devastated by Typhoon Tisoy in December 2019 when he was still governor.