Archive for September, 2006


Seafdec and German Dev’t Service findings on Guimaras corals

September 30, 2006

WELL, my wish has been granted. There is an independent study, albeit a rapid assessment, of the coral reef in Guimaras.

Click studyofcoralreefsatsouth-eastguimaras.pdf

And contrary to Siliman University’s Dr. Angel Alcala’s group findings, this report by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center based in Iloilo and local representatives of an agency of the German government, indicates that the corals in Guimaras have been affected by the oil spill. In fact they have been producing mucus, a sign that the corals are disstressed.

So which report is more accurate? I’m betting on Seafdec and the Germans.

Source: Project Sunrise. Another study, a BFAR assessment of seagrass in Guimaras is also available on that web site.



September 30, 2006

Angel Alcala

AFTER we came back to the Silliman campus on the 27th of August from our trip to Guimaras Island to assess the damage of the August 11, 2006 bunker oil spill off the island, we announced that mangroves and beaches were the ecosystems badly affected by the spill but the submerged coral colonies did not show external evidence of oil sticking to them. When asked by the press, radio announcers and television stations a few days later, we confirmed this negative finding on corals.

But we were aware that seeing no oil sticking to the coral skeletons is different from saying that the corals were not affected by the spill. And we made sure that this message was clearly stated in our responses to questions from the press and in our assessment report sent out before the 12th of September.

Based on our observations on corals in the past we had known that stressed corals respond to attacks of predators, and possibly to chemical pollutants in seawater, by producing mucus. Mucus production is therefore an indicator of stress. In the 1980s, I published observations on branching Acropora producing mucus when grazed upon by Drupella shell. Based on this knowledge, we have stated in our assessment reports that we have to continue observing corals in badly oil-affected sites on Guimaras because we had expected that the remaining oil on beaches and in mangrove lagoons will eventually leach out to sea and possibly affect reef-forming corals as well as other organisms.

When I received a text-message from a friend who was presumably on Guimaras on the 8th or 9th of September saying that he had observed mucus on corals in affected sites, I knew we had to investigate the report immediately. This prompted me to mobilize our research group for a visit to Guimaras. For some reasons, that planned trip was postponed, so I had to assemble and send another research group from my Center (SUAKCREM) with instructions to conduct a detailed scientific survey complete with adequate controls. This survey team left for Guimaras on the early morning of Saturday, September 16th.

(For the full piece, click Corals, Sept. 30, 2006.)


Please take note that Dr. Alcala’s group was the one hired by Petron Corp. to study the oil spill’s effects on Guimaras’ marine resources. As you can see, the findings of the study, as well as his responses to comments on the validity of his group’s findings, are neither here nor there.

What Guimaras needs is a really independent scientific study, unpaid by any entity with vested interests in downplaying the oil spill, to determine the accident’s actual impact on the oil spill.


Agency asked to start seaweeds rehab program in Guimaras

September 30, 2006

By Erwin Ambo S. Delilan

NOTING that the waters of Guimaras has rapidly improved after a month-long cleanup from the worst-ever oil spill in the country, a top ranking Western Visayas official has requested the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) to start its seaweeds rehabilitation program in the island-province.

Concurrent Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas and Task Force Solar Oil Spill (SOS) Commander Rafael “Lito” Coscolluela said he requested Bfar to conduct a special assessment to determine if the province’s oil-affected seas could already support its seaweed farming program anew.

“Then, we also asked Bfar to start its seaweed rehabilitation program,” he said.

On Monday next week, Coscolluela said a four-man team from BFAR will be conducting an intensified inspection and assessment on the output of the cleanup.

“Then, we will wait for their recommendations on whether or not the evacuees will be ordered to return home and whether or not to start the rehabilitation programs for the seaweeds, coral reefs, fishing grounds and mangroves,” he said.

(For the full story, click Sunstar, Sept. 30, 2006.)


From our mailbox…indie filmmakers on Guimaras (UPDATED)

September 29, 2006

Oil on rocks by Victor Villanueva

Dear Friends,

WHAT: The television broadcast of 16 shorts films of different types(narrative, documentary, experimental) on the Guimaras Oil Spill, 4 minutes each by 16 filmmakers (including moi) from Luzon, Visayas and

WHERE: SHORTS (special episode)
Istilong Iba, Indie Pelikula

no time advised yet

(Read this blog for further announcements on event.)

Please check them out.

Please keep watch on Guimaras and the surrounding islands of Panay, Negros and Iloilo.

Please keep helping.

Please don’t take the so-called “experts” words on it at face value. Get out there and find out for yourself first-hand.

trying to stay true with love,


P.S. For a preview, please check out the stills taken by filmmaker
Victor Villanueva from Cebu.

P.P.S. For background on the project please check out this Inquirer article.

(via anjuli)


Petron cover-up?

September 28, 2006


IT seems that with the waning of national media coverage of the Guimaras oil spill from the sinking of MT Solar 1, Petron’s interest and ardor for the clean-up of the oil sludge washed upon Guimaras province’s former pristine beaches and mangrove forests have also greatly diminished.

This is lamentable since it is indisputable that Petron has the responsibility to clean up the mess created by the spill. For one, MT Solar 1 was carrying Petron’s bunker fuel bound for Zamboanga from its refinery in Bataan and also the Special Board of Marine Inquiry investigating the Solar 1 sinking has identified Petron as one of those responsible for the accident for allowing the overloading of Solar 1.

Petron has of course disputed the findings of the Board of Marine Inquiry about the overloading but it cannot escape responsibility for the cleanup and for compensating the fishermen and other Guimaras residents, whose livelihood had been adversely affected by the Solar 1/Petron oil spill.

It’s good that local media have remained vigilant in reporting Petron’s sins of commission and omission in the aftermath of the oil spill which is the worst in Philippine history and which no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself has proclaimed as a national disaster.

One of the more galling stories about Petron’s “clean-up” effort is the one reported by David Israel Sinay in the Sept. 19 issue of Panay News, where he detailed the accusations of the head teacher of an elementary school in Barangay Tando, Nueva Valencia against Petron. Barangay Tando is one of the areas worst hit by the oil spill.

(For the full story, click Mla. Standard Today, Sept. 29, 2006.)


UP to form legal, economic team on Guimaras

September 28, 2006, Sept. 28, 2006

THE University of the Philippines is forming a team of legal and economic experts to determine liability for the Guimaras oil spill and what legal action the university could take.

Marvic Leonen, the UP vice president for legal affairs, said the team would be drawn from the UP system, particularly UP Diliman and UP Visayas, and would include valuation experts to compute the damage.

“We’ve been affected twice, the Semirara and Guimaras spills … We have marine reserves that are used for research,” Leonen told a forum on the legal aspects of the oil spill in UP Diliman.

He did not reveal who the team members were nor the charges being readied in connection with the Guimaras spill.

A rapid assessment report completed by the Silliman University on August 30, 19 days after the spill, placed the potential annual losses from fishery products because of damage to mangroves at 30 million pesos, and from loss of wood products at 1.6 million pesos.

The UP Visayas will come out with its three-month rapid assessment report in November. The school maintains the official information database on the spill. It has obtained a 100-million-peso, 10-year grant to help in the rehabilitation of Guimaras.


Chemical dispersant used in Guimaras oil spill more harmful—DOST

September 28, 2006

By Helen Flores
The Philippines Star, Sept. 27, 2006

THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) confirmed yesterday that the chemical dispersants used in containing the Guimaras oil spill may cause more harm to the already distressed area.

Dun sa katanungan na ang chemical dispersants na ito ay mas toxic, actually totoo ’yun (It’s actually true that the chemical dispersants are toxic),” Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), of the DOST, said during a press conference at the Hotel Kimberly in Malate, Manila.

Montoya made the statement in reaction to a scientific study conducted by Silliman University, which cautioned against the use of chemical oil dispersants in cleaning the oil spill.

Reports said that the research team found that “the effects of dispersants on living organisms are worse that the actual effects of the oil spill.”

Montoya, however, said that the agencies concerned in containing the oil spill should weigh the risk and benefit of using chemical dispersants.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) used chemical dispersants to clean up the oil spill in Guimaras.

Lahat ng ginagawa natin sa siyensya at medicina laging may harm yan, sa gamot may side effects pero kailangan mo laging isipin na dapat yun benepisyo na gusto mong makuha should outweigh the risk or the harm (All we do in the field of science and medicine has some harm, medicines have side effects, but you have to think that the benefits you desire should outweigh the risk or harm),” he stressed

He said the issue of using the chemical dispersants is now being debated upon.

“Does it actually outweigh the potential harm to the ecological environment?” Montoya said, adding that these chemicals would eventually reach shore and the people who would be exposed to them.

Montoya added that there are no really “global experts” in this case because it is rarely happening in any country.

He said the experiences of other countries in handling oil spills are the government’s basis of response.

He also said that there are other ways of treating the oil spill, like the use of coconut and corn husks as oil absorbents.

Maraming substitutes, dapat alamin kung anong pinakamaganda ’yun ang dapat asikasuhin, importante dito maaddress natin ’yun problema taking into consideration not only the actual oil spill itself but its acute and long-term effect in the environment and the population,” he said.

The M/T Solar I, carrying more than two million liters of bunker fuel, sank off Guimaras waters on Aug. 11 causing the country’s worst-ever oil spill.