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Solons seek probe of MARINA’s failure to collect oil pollution fund from oil tankers despite oil spill incidents

MANILA, July 29 — Two lawmakers are calling on the House Committees on Good Government and Accountability and Transportation to jointly probe the failure of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to comply with its mandate to collect and administer the Oil Pollution Compensation Fund from oil tankers despite the increase of oil spill incidents in the country.

The inquiry was sought by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate through House Resolution 1198, which states MARINA is mandated under Republic Act No. 9483, otherwise known as the “Oil Pollution Compensation Act,” to collect from oil tankers 10 centavos per liter of their cargo as seed money to an oil pollution fund.

R.A. 9483 adopts and implements the provisions of the 1992 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the 1992 International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensations for Oil Pollution Damage.

Crafting of R.A. 9483 was prompted by the 2006 Guimaras oil spill incident, according to the lawmakers.

Colmenares said Section 22 of R.A. 9483 provides that MARINA is mandated to collect from oil tankers 10 centavos per liter of their cargo as seed money to an Oil Pollution Management Fund (OPMF) to be administered by the agency.

“Despite the increase of oil spill incidents since the 2006 Guimaras Disaster, particularly the massive oil spill that has swathed the town of Estancia in Iloilo, MARINA has yet to formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the OPMF under Section 22 of R.A. 9483 seven years after the law became effective,” said Colmenares.

Colmenares said MARINA should also have compromised a lesser amount of contribution from oil shippers to ensure there would be a fund to clean up the oil spill and provide relief and compensation for its victims.

“There should have been a compromise on the amount despite the disagreement between MARINA and the oil shippers on the minimum and maximum value of contributions and how long they would contribute to continue the fund since oil shippers contend the 10-centavo per liter contribution is high,” said Colmenares.

Under the law, the OPMF shall be used: one, for the immediate removal and clean up operations of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in all oil pollution cases, according to Colmenares.

Secondly, he said the OPMF shall fund research, enforcement and monitoring activities of relevant agencies such as the MARINA and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and other ports authority of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

Colmenares said 90 percent of the OPMF shall be maintained annually for the activities set forth under containment and clean-up activities, and that any amounts specifically appropriated for the OPMF under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) shall be used exclusively for such activities.

Zarate said that under Section 22 of R.A. 9483, the OPMF shall be constituted from contributions of owners and operators of tankers and barges hauling oil or petroleum products in the country’s waterways and coast-wise shipping routes.

During its first year of existence, the OPMF shall be constituted by an impost of 10 centavos per liter for every delivery or transshipment of oil made by tanker barges and tanker haulers, he explained.

For the succeeding fiscal years, Zarate said the amount of contribution shall be jointly determined by MARINA, other concerned government agencies, and representatives from the owners of tankers, barges, tankers haulers, and ship hauling oil or petroleum products.

In determining the amount of contribution, he said the purposes for which the fund was set up shall always be considered.

Zarate said the OPMF shall also be constituted from fines imposed pursuant to R.A. 9483, grants, donations, endowments from various sources, domestic or foreign, and amounts specifically appropriated for OPMF under the annual GAA. (PNA)

SCS/EBP

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