Criminal charges filed against barge owner, two others for oil spill in Iloilo, Philippines

Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

The Philippine Coast Guard filed a criminal complaint against local company AC Energy and its concerned officers for violation of Section 107 of Republic Act (RA) 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 at the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, July 10.

Commander Joe Mercurio of Coast Guard Station Iloilo, together with the coast guard’s legal affairs team, claims to have found sufficient evidence to prove the negligence of AC Energy, its president, and the plant manager of Power Barge 102, which in turn led to an oil spill incident in Iloilo City on July 3.

The explosion of one of the barge’s tanks and the resulting leakage of around 48,000 litres of oil reportedly contaminated the coastal areas of 23 communities in Iloilo City, the municipality of Dumangas in Iloilo province, and the nearby island province of Guimaras as well as a one-hectare protected mangrove area in Iloilo.

Section 107 of RA 8550 states that “upon a summary finding of administrative liability,” AC Energy and its concerned officers shall be made to pay a fine of PHP300,000 (US$6,077) to PHP500,000 (US$10,129) and an additional fine of PHP15,000 (US$303) per day until: cessation of the violation and full payment of the fines; the imposition of a cease and desist order; closure or suspension of the development, construction, or facility; cessation of operations; or disconnection of water supply.

If found guilty in court, the accused individuals face prison sentences of six to 12 years each.

Meanwhile, recovery and rehabilitation efforts are still underway to clear the affected areas of any remaining oil.

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