Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

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Guimaras launches drive against mining activities

August 13, 2008

JORDAN, Guimaras – Stickers and streamers emblazoned with “Spare Guimaras” have appeared in this province marking the start of a campaign against mining activities in the island.

Guimaras Gov. Felipe Nava said they will launch the campaign against approved and pending applications for mining in the province because of its environmental and health effects.

The applications cover from 70 to 80 percent of the 60,000-hectare island with applications covering from 2,000 to 30,000 hectares, according to the governor.

“This will destroy the island,” Nava said here yesterday at the sidelines of the briefing on rehabilitation efforts on areas affected by the August 2006 oil spill.

Guimaras is known for its pristine beaches, export quality mangoes and richness in natural resources. (Click here for the rest.)

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DENR scored for diverting funds for Guimaras

August 12, 2008

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau, PDI
08/12/2008

JORDAN, GUIMARAS – Guimaras officials have scored the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for implementing oil spill rehabilitation projects in areas not affected by the oil spill.

Guimaras Gov. Felipe Nava said the DENR had implemented livelihood projects using rehabilitation funds even in communities that were hardly affected by the Aug. 11, 2006 oil spill.

“I’m not contented with what’s happening. We are in the dark and we don’t know if these are beneficial to the people of Guimaras. I think we should correct this (because) we are wasting precious money,” Nava said during a presentation of updates on the rehabilitation programs marking the second anniversary of the oil spill held on Monday. (Click here for the rest.)

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OIL SPILL DAMAGE

August 11, 2008

Guimaras recovering but non-release of funds stalls rehab

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau, PDI
08/11/2008

GUIMARAS ISLAND—Two years after a massive oil spill hit this island-province, officials and experts said the island is showing recovery and coping from the impact of the calamity.

But rehabilitation efforts have been stalled by the non-release of around P150 million intended for development programs.

“Our activities are back to normal,” Guimaras Gov. Felipe Nava told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

He said residents in all areas affected by the oil spill have gone back to fishing. (Click here for the rest.)

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Fishpond operators, seaweed growers still await compensation

January 10, 2008

By Erly C. Garcia
The News Today
Jan. 8, 2008

The provincial government of Guimaras is not giving up on its move to ask the London-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) to pay the compensation claims of fishpond operators and seaweed growers in the province.

Rep. JC Rahman Nava, in an interview last week, said they are exhausting all the legal remedies to also include fishpond operators and seaweed growers in the oil spill compensation.

Last year, IOPCF rejected 6,090 claims from seaweed farmers and only accepted 299 applications. The Fund said that when they investigated the claims, “it became apparent that a large number of these claimants were not involved in seaweed farming at the time of the incident.”

IOPCF also rejected the claims of the nearly 126,000 residents of Guimaras because of some irregularities.

When asked if the rejected claimants still have the chance to receive compensation, Nava said it is up to the IOPCF.

The congressman said they left with the IOPCF the validation of applicants for compensation claims.

He said the IOPCF have set their own criteria which is based on international standards.

To note, out of the 125,614 second batch claimants from Guimaras, only 134 were accepted and were offered compensation totaling P1.4 million.

The Fund also accepted only 8,434 claims out of the 15,850 second batch claimants from municipalities in Iloilo.

The claims were rejected because they were incomplete and a significant number were from people under the age of 18 years, which is the minimum age at which people are allowed to engage in fishing in the country.

The IOPCF had earlier also raised concern over the number of claimants in Guimaras saying it was improbable that the oil spill had affected 80 percent of the island’s population of around 154,000.

The IOPCF has paid a total of P906,669,648 in compensation for economic losses and refund for expenses in the clean-up and preventive measures in relation to the Aug. 11. 2006 sinking of the M/T Solar I off the coasts of Guimaras.

The sinking triggered a massive oil spill after the tankers’s cargo of 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel were spilled contaminating marine resources and dislocating thousands of residents mostly dependent on fishing for their livelihood.

The Fund had receive claims totaling P2,514,425,538

It paid 22,307 claims amounting to P174,176,143 as compensation for economic losses for Guimaras and Iloilo residents. The Fund also paid P2,186,658 to 57 claimants from the island’s tourism sector. and P2,142,301 to 74 claims in property damages.

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Group doubts DENR report on mangrove recovery in Guimaras

August 30, 2007

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A fisherman in Guimaras rows his boat while looking for an area where to catch fish. (Photo by A.Chris Fernandez)

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
The News Today, Aug. 30, 2007

A nationwide militant alliance of fisherfolks has raised doubts on a government report showing that mangroves contaminated by last year’s massive oil spill in Guimaras are showing signs of resiliency and recovery.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said it wanted a “second opinion” on the state of the mangroves in Guimaras in reaction to a study of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that showed the natural recovery of mangroves.

“Everybody loves a welcome news. But we doubt the credibility of the DENR. It has performed its role to the hilt as no.1 apologist for Petron Corp. and Sunshine Maritime Development Corp, owners of MT Solar 1. That’s why we want an honest-to-goodness second opinion,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in an e-mailed statement.

The assessment of the DENR in Western Visayas conducted in June18-29 showed “significant signs of recovery” of mangroves in areas affected by the oil spill. The report had said that new leaves have grown on affected mangrove trees and those previously monitored as having completelty defoliated.

The asssessment is the third conducted in mangrove areas that were contaminated after the Solar I sank on Aug. 11, 2006 and spilled around 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel.

Scientists are closely monitoring the impact of the massive contamination of mangroves by bunker fuel in Guimaras because there has been no previous studies and researches on the long-term effect of oil spill on mangroves and the ecosystem in the country.

Hicap said an independent scientific study must be done to verify the June 18-29 study conducted by DENR. “The assessment made by the DENR could be motivated by interest groups which want to eliminate the ghosts of last year’s Guimaras oil spill tragedy.”

He said a casual inspection conducted by Pamalakaya and the Iloilo-based environmental group Save Our Lives, S.O.S-Panay and Guimaras last August 11 belied the DENR study.

“What we saw were mangrove areas under the state of catastrophe. We are not scientists, but we know how to distinguish what is real and what is fake,” said Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz.

A rapid assessment study of an inter-agency team conducted shortly after the oil spill said around 647.98 hectares of mangroves in Guimaras were affected by the oil spill. Of this area, around 468 ha were heavily affected and 179.8 ha were considered slightly affected.

Scientists at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), which is spearheading the scientific researches on the impact of the oil spill, earlier said the rehabilitation and recovery of marine life contaminated by the oil slick could take 10 to 20 years.

Pamalakaya and Save Our Lives, S.O.S- Panay and Guimaras is also calling on legislators to pass a law creating a P10-billion rehabilitation fund for Guimaras that will be utilized over the next three years.

Hicap said the fund should come from giant oil firm Petron Corp. and not from taxpayers’ money. The groups are accusing Petron of being liable for the oil spill, an allegation repeatedly denied by the oil firm.

“The people of Guimaras want Petron Corp. to shoulder the costs of rehabilitation and that’s their collective sentiment and interest. Our groups are just echoing the voices from the grassroots,” the two groups said in a join statement.

They said that of the amount, P6 billion would be used for environmental and marine biodiversity rehabilitation while the rest would be spent for the economic rehabilitation.

Hicap noted the bulk of the government’s P863-million fund allocated by Congress last year and intended for the rehabilitation of the affected areas has not been released a year after the oil spill.

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Editorial

August 12, 2007

MODERNITY VS. THE ENVIRONMENT

The clash of Modern Living of the 21st Century and Environment Preservation is happening in our lifetime. Just look around you – people in Loon, Tagbilaran City and Albur.

Let’s start with the oil exploration issue. The sneaky Australia-based oil explorer (Otto Energy Ltd) mother company of the even sneakier NorAsian Energy Ltd proudly announced it had discovered potential commercial oil recoverables in the Argao-Cabilao in the amount of 270 million barrels. Fine.

The Department of Energy quickly gave them a deadline to start drilling and end by March 2009. Fine.

But wait a minute. Wasn’t this the same consortium that – after having agreed with the stakeholders of the issue: fisher folks, LGU, environmentalists, tourism defenders that no seismic survey will be done without resolving issues – did one anyway on the sly -with a little help from scheming and public-insensitive officials and judges?

And hey, has any Bohol official looked at the fine print of the LGU sharing agreement in the oil find so that the terse complaint aired by the Palawan governor Joel Reyes over Station DYRD that his province never got its fair share in the deal leading to a pending case in the Supreme Court – will no likewise happen to our beloved Bohol?

One cannot be termed over-critical when past facts and antecedents point to grossly irregular ethical behavior of certain companies, industries and officials. What NorAsian did in the sinister seismic survey and the highway robbery of Palawan are not the imaginings of the fertile minds of paranoid environmental warriors. They are all well documented.

Everyone is well aware that an oil find as it did in Texas many years ago -exploded commerce beyond every Texan’s imagination.But they paid precious little price for it.

What about elsewhere?

Oil explorations and rigs can cause oil spills -that is a grim possibility. Let’s not go too far and see what has happened to Guimaras island -victim of the country’s largest oil spill.

Because of the spill , the Barangay Tando, fishermen who used to catch 30 kilos a day (average) – now Mang Ambo can hardly get two kilos.

The fish has gone.Some folks were compensated P 14,000 which could not even buy a boat and fish net. The BFAR could not even say if the shell in the area is edible.

Tourism had suffered when for months the blue was murky with greyish black ink – though most have settled in coves nearby. Mangroves were destroyed and the seaweed industry was crushed. Even the mango population was threatened because water under the ground was contaminated costing millions of pesos in disinfectants to the government. For a while water was not potable. We know because we have met some of the suppliers of the disinfectants.

It is a worst case scenario, true – but it can happen. We have prided our Bohol to have tourism as our flagship industry – is it endangered now? Who is seriously looking into this? Despite denials, scientific proof had surfaced there were already negative effects of the seismic survey on marine life and biodiversity.

In the same vein, Rep Edgar Chatto (chair of Tourism in the House) should explain in detail and reconcile how the handsomely presented International Cruise Port in Cabilao island (in the same town of Loon) – engineered by the Philippine Ports Authority – will fare with all those oil rig structures and barges crisscrossing the sea path once the oil exploration begins in 2009.

This is serious matter that capsulizes the ongoing struggle between modernity and the environment as this editorial postulates as a title. Public vigilance must continue.

What about the promised Water Treatment of City Mayor Dan Lim to prevent the cascading of waste and impurities to the clear Bohol waters of Tagbilaran Bay and the city sea port? Where is it? Has the city SP prepared a budget for it? This the mayor must give this importance because the Bay serves as a showcase to all visitors who after all give business to the city and the province.

The Water Treatment project may not be as thrilling and visible as a spanking new Agora edifice in downtown CPG but the long-term impact on the environment -and tourism in general – of such project cannot be overstated.

Finally, we must find a closure to the Sanitary Landfill debate over the Albur location.Modern living creates waste every day -whether we like it or not -and we have to dispose them. A city and a prime island tourist destination like Panglao without a regular sanitary landfill is unacceptable.

The issues of just compensation, water protection of Albur sources, and a fair billing system for users should put the issue to rest. We can start being less parochial in our thoughts, perhaps.No town is an island – sufficient unto itself. Shalom. (The Bohol Chronicle, Aug. 12, 2007)

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Where have all the fish gone?

August 11, 2007

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Fisherman Glenn Gabito laments the disappearance of fish as he inspects his oil-smeared fishnets in Barangay Tando, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras whose shorelines and waters have been polluted by the Petron oil spill. PDI

Text and photo by Hazel P. Villa
Inquirer, Aug. 11, 2007

NUEVA VALENCIA, Guimaras – Tama gid ka pigado (Extremely difficult time),” is the oft-repeated phrase of fishermen in the coastal villages of Nueva Valencia town in Guimaras province that was heavily affected by the country’s worst oil spill on Aug. 11, 2006.

Glenn Gabito, 41, a fisherman and father of eight children in Barangay Tando said the last time his fishnet got 600 kilos of fish in a single fishing expedition was Jan. 1 this year. Since then, he couldn’t even get two kilos.

“The fish have not returned. I have been out fishing for three days but I came back with nothing. There’s no income because there’s no fish,” said Gabito in Hiligaynon on Aug. 6.

“Even small fish, none at all,” said Gabito whose house in Tando beach was heavily tarred with bunker fuel oil from Petron-chartered MT Solar I that leaked 1.2 million liters of oil.

Before the oil spill, fishermen could get 20 to 30 kilos of fish a day and, on really good days, about a hundred kilos or more, netting an income of P500 to P1,500, he said.

(Click Where fish.)

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