(Eagle News)–The Philippine Coast Guard has filed criminal charges against a thermal energy company and two of its officers following an oil spill in Iloilo on July 3.
The PCG said the charges for violation of Section 107 of Republic Act (RA) 8550 or The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, as amended by RA 10654 on aquatic pollution were filed against AC Energy Inc. president John Eric Francia, and Power barge number 102 Plant Manager, Roberto Gambito before the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on July 10.
This was seven days after the explosion of Power Barge Number 102, which the PCG said contaminated the coastal areas of approximately 23 communities in Iloilo City, municipality of Dumangas, and Guimaras, as well as a one-hectare mangrove forest in Iloilo.
The PCG said the incident also left 400 locals displaced.
PCG Commandant, Vice Admiral George V Ursabia Jr. said that the government will work double time for the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected and of the aquatic flora and fauna in the waters of the most affected communities.
“Let this incident be a reminder to all industry stakeholders that even the slightest negligence can pose direct or indirect threat on the health and safety of the people, as well as living and non-living aquatic resources,” he said.
“The PCG, as a law enforcement body in marine environmental protection, will ensure that the failure of one company serves as a relevant lesson to others. We need everyone’s cooperation to protect and conserve our limited marine resources,” he added.
Section 107 of RA 8550 says that upon a summary finding of administrative liability, the AC Energy Inc. and its concerned officers shall be punished with fine of P300,000 – P 500,000 and an additional fine of P15,000 per day “until the violation ceases and the fines are paid, the imposition of cease and desist order, closure or suspension of the development, construction or facility, or cessation of operations, or disconnection of water supply.”
Upon conviction by a court of law, the offenders can be punished with imprisonment of six years and one day – 12 years and a fine twice the amount of the administrative fine, and an additional fine of P 15,000 per day until the violation ceases and the fines are paid, the imposition of cease and desist order, closure or suspension of the development, construction or facility, or cessation of operations, or disconnection of water supply.
The orders may be issued ex parte pending resolution of the case.