Following the oil spill caused by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress vessel on 28 February 2023 off the coast of Oriental Mindoro, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) produced maps showing the possible oil spill extent derived from satellite images. These images were retrieved from the International Charter Space and Major Disasters (Disasters Charter), a worldwide collaboration of various space agencies & other space-related institutions through which satellite data are made available for the benefit of disaster management.

On 28 March, PhilSA held a press briefing and workshop to familiarize journalists on how to read and interpret these satellite images. The press briefing and workshop held at the PhilSA office in Eastwood Quezon City covered a discussion on PhilSA’s Disaster, Hazard, and Risk Mapping (DHARMA) Project, PhilSA’s membership to various international initiatives and charters, and a hands-on explanation on the different oil spill maps being issued to the public.

The briefing and workshop were facilitated by PhilSA Space Data Mobilization and Applications Division (SDMAD) OIC-Chief and Supervising Science Research Specialist Engr. Roel de la Cruz and PhilSA Space Mission Control and Operations Division (SMCOD) Senior Science Research Specialist Ms. Jamaica Pangasinan. Journalists and writers covering environment, climate, and disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) stories attended the activity.

“Satellite imagery can be used to map large areas from a different vantage point, and aid in making science-based decisions. These maps could be used to complement the efforts of various government agencies and other institutions to aid in the government’s oil spill response,” Engr. de la Cruz said.

(L-R) Ms. Jamaica Pangasinan, Engr. Roel de la Cruz, and PhilSA Deputy Director General for Space Science and Technology Dr. Gay Jane Perez receive various questions regarding the oil spill maps during the Q&A panel.

Part of PhilSA’s mandate under RA 11363 or the “Philippine Space Act” is improved public access and resource sharing where PhilSA is to assist the government and the private sectors in delivering public service through the use of space assets. Through these media briefings, PhilSA helps enhance the country’s hazard management, disaster mitigation, and resilience to climate change, through the development of space education and public awareness.

View the presentation on the active international cooperation for the Mindoro oil spill made by Ms. Pangasinan below:

View the oil spill assessment made by Engr. de la Cruz below:

View the collated oil spill maps from 03 to 19 March 2023: