Six members of Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) expert team arrived in the Philippines to help the government address the ongoing oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.
They and three other officials from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Embassy in the Philippines led by Minister for Economic Affairs Nihei Daisuke paid a courtesy call to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) headquarters on Friday.
They were welcomed by PCG officials, led by Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Administration, Vice Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan.
During the press conference, Nihei said the JDR expert team consists of five members of Japan Coast Guard, three of whom belong to the National Strike Team, an expert unit in oil removal and one member of JICA based in Tokyo.
“We are determined to make every effort to combat this disaster to mitigate, and save the ocean and save the livelihood of the affected community,” he said.
In his statement, Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa said “the JDR Expert Team will cooperate with Philippine government authorities, particularly the Philippine Coast Guard, to support the investigation of the extent of damage, as well as provide guidance on ongoing oil removal and control activities.”
Gavan said JDR members will go to the province of Oriental Mindoro to inspect the site.
“The offer of support from the government of Japan through the JICA and the Japan Coast Guard were indeed a very big boost to us because the source of the oil spill is yet to be addressed and we recognized that they have the technology to be offered to us. Tomorrow I understand they will be going to the site for ocular inspection,” he said.
Gavan added that the United States also offered assistance to address the oil spill problem in Oriental Mindoro while South Korea is coordinating with them on how they can help the government.
“The government of Korea and the United States also offered assistance… The US has been assisting us in modeling the trajectory of the oil spill. For Korea, the coordination is still underway on how they can help us,” he said.
Kazuhiko said in line with the request of the Philippine government, the government of Japan will also dispatch “equipment such as oil blotters, oil snares, and oil-proof working gloves that are set to be transported to the Philippines”.
“The Japanese Government is ready to consider providing additional supplies once the JDR Expert Team confirms the need for more materials and equipment, while taking into account the status of assistance provided by other donor countries,” he said.
Nihei also mentioned that the Japanese government may also consider bringing in additional equipment from Japan, in case their assessment shows that they need to do so to address the oil spill.
“We are going to the site and then we will make an assessment or survey or investigation of the current situation in cooperation with the PCG. The PCG is off course doing the operation, it’s ongoing off course so we are to provide guidance, advice to the Philippine authority and then in cooperation with the Philippine government we are doing this operation of oil removal or oil clean up or control,” he said.
“Regarding the equipment there are, we have received some request from the Philippine authority about provisions of equipment as well and some of the equipments are in the process of being brought here but again after we conducted this survey or assessment on the site we will make consideration, we will take into consideration to (do) some additional provision of the equipment,” he added.
Gavan said the PCG auxiliary also “mobilized no less than 2000 personnel from Southern Tagalog or Batangas to conduct the coastal clean up.”
“The group is headed by Rear Admiral Leandro Mendoza and they also brought with them not only cleaning equipment but also medical teams and relief goods. They were there together with the regular members of the coast guard, the local government units and other people organizations who are willing to help,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS
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