California lawyer exposes oil dumping in Palawan in viral video
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Drone photos captured by a foreign lawyer and videographer showing two large commercial fishing vessels and three smaller boats dumping suspected used oil near a hot spring and a marine protected area (MPA) in Coron have gone viral.
Atty. Sergei Tokmakov’s photos posted on the Facebook page of the Philippine Tourism Commission Group last September 15, indicated the vessels were ditching what seems to be used oil near Siete Pecados marine protected area.
Tokmakov, a lawyer from San Diego, California, said his drone captured the scene around 500 meters from Maquinit Hot Spring, “one of the very few natural saltwater springs in the world”.
“I was just shooting a video about the hot spring and nearby stuff. But after I got home and looked at the footage on a big screen, I realized that… (expletives), this looks like oil,” he said in his post.
One drone photo shows a commercial fishing vessel tugging a rubber boat behind and discharging a large amount of “used oil” within the 15-kilometer municipal waters of Coron, northern Palawan.
Reacting to this, Coron Mayor Jerry Barracoso on Wednesday told the local media the incident had been reported to the Coast Guard Substation (CGSS) in their town.
He said it was an “isolated case,” and the vessels just took shelter in Coron to avoid being caught by strong winds and waves due to Typhoon Ompong.
Large fishing vessels are prohibited within municipal waters per Philippine Fisheries Code. The smaller fishing boats, accompanying the bigger vessels, are responsible to haul the fish and return to the mother ships with their catch.
“Parang nagtago lang sila doon. Sa initial na report, na-identify na nila yong pangalan ng fishing company. Yon pa lang, wala pa silang final report,” he said.
Felizardo Cayatoc, provincial environment and natural resources officer of the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in a separate interview, said no large oil discharge was found in the area by the investigating team of CGSS and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Coron.
“Kung merong oil spill ay hindi naman yan mag-se-settle, makikita ‘yan. Very visible ang mga ganyan. Makikita mo rin ang signs sa mangrove areas pero dito ay it turned out na negative,” Cayatoc said.
Tokmakov’s photos have been shared more than 350 times and liked by over 660 followers. (PNA)