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RP to seek UN help in cleanup; tanker a ‘relic’

August 29, 2006

By SAM MEDIAVILLA
The Manila Times Reporter

PRESIDENT Arroyo on Monday said the Philippines will file a resolution in the United Nations to seek the cooperation and help of UN member-countries in the massive cleanup operation on Guimaras Island.

As this developed, environmental group Greenpeace on Monday bared that the sunken M/T Solar 1 in Guimaras has been sailing for more than 50 years and should be considered ” a floating relic” for its age, DZMM reported.

‘Yung tanker na ito ay noong 1951 ito kinomisyon, 55 years old na ‘yan (The tanker was commissioned in 1951, so it’s 55 years old),” Red Constantino of Greenpeace Southeast Asia told an interview prior to the start of a Senate environment committee investigation Monday.

He said that the Solar 1 is no longer fit to sail.

He added that Petron Corp. and Sunshine Maritime Corp. could have cut down on expenses. Petron chartered the tanker owned by Sunshine. (Full story here.)

President Arroyo said Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, also the chairman of Task Force Guimaras, has instructed Interior Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina to file a worldwide appeal to UN member-nations to help the country in its cleanup drive.

Arroyo said the Philippines, being a signatory to the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and Fund Convention, could draw at least $310-million compensation for the oil spill that damaged the water off Guimaras.

Malacañang claimed the compensation could be given to the Philippines under both the two conventions because of loss of income as a direct consequence of an oil spill. It added that preventive and cleanup costs incurred by government and other bodies may also be claimed.

Reports said that the United Nations Development Program is also providing aid in the cleanup in the amount of $16 million, roughly P800 million.

The sunken tanker, M/T Solar 1, which has been under water since August 11, has leaked an estimated 500,000 liters of bunker fuel, the worst oil spill in Philippine maritime history.

Interviewed over Radio Mindanao Network, the President said the country’s appeal to the UN was prompted by reports that despite the large amount of chemical dispersant sprayed on the massive oil slick, officials of Philippine Coast Guard could not determine if they have contained the spill.

(Published on Aug. 29, 2006. For the full story, click ABS-CBN News.)

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