The local government of the city of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines has sought the help of its partner agencies and community volunteers in monitoring and guarding the city’s seawater which is now facing the threat of being reached by the oil spill that hit the neighboring town of Naujan.

Mayor Malou Flores-Morillo, in a televised interview on Wednesday, said they have been monitoring Calapan’s waters and have declared it to be still safe at present.

There is no ban yet on fishing as marine products are still safe for consumption, she noted.

However, for the peace of mind of residents, Morillo said they requested the Bureau of Fisheries Aquatic Resources to conduct water sampling.

The local government earlier formed a task force to address the impact of the spillage on the environment and the health and livelihood of the residents.

Morillo said they had been coordinating with agencies concerned, and partners, including international groups like Blue Alliance, and marine experts for preventive measures.

“We make improvised spill booms in the last four days. These are made of rice straw, plastic bottles, sacks, etc.,” said Clark Ross, coastal resource management coordinator at the City Fisheries Management Office, in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve been conducting IECs (information, education, communications) and the response is so far positive. People are willing to act,” he added.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) on Sunday reported that while most of the oil would still end up along Naujan town and Pola Bay in Oriental Mindoro, the weakening of the northeast monsoon winds could cause the oil earlier seen to go southwards to northern Palawan and to flow northwards to Verde Island Passage by March 16.

Naujan is 69 kilometers while the town of Pola is 109 kilometers south of the Verde Island Passage.

“We have prepared improvised oil spill boom to prevent slicks from entering the rivers, but while the spill is not yet here, sale of fishes and shellfish are already affected,” said Lemuel Gahol, village captain of Ibaba West, in an interview Wednesday.

The spill was from oil tanker MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank on Feb. 28 while en route to Iloilo province from Bataan after its engine overheated.