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Food, medicine sought for communities troubled by oil spill

September 3, 2006

NUEVA VALENCIA, Philippines (UCAN) – As donations arrive for cleanup and relief operations in communities affected by a recent oil spill in the central Philippines, Church leaders are calling for food, medicine and an honest probe to determine proper liability for the incident.

According to Monsignor Meliton Oso, who heads the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (JASAC) in Iloilo City, 450 kilometers southeast of Manila, food and medicine are “major concerns right now.”

The Philippine Coast Guard estimates that at least 200,000 liters of oil have escaped from Solar 1, the tanker that sank in Panay Gulf on Aug. 11 while transporting 2 million liters of bunker fuel for Petron Corporation.

Much of the oil that has seeped out of the sunken vessel has spread to mangrove areas and communities of Nueva Valencia town, Guimaras, affecting the living conditions and the livelihood of about 30,000 people. The island province of Guimaras is just south of Iloilo province on the larger island of Panay. Jaro archdiocese serves the people of both provinces.

Monsignor Oso told UCA News he met with Father Maloney Gotera, parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Nueva Valencia, two other priests and a lawyer at the social action center in Iloilo City on Aug. 30 to discuss the situation and the needs of those affected by the mishap.

(Click Food, meds for the full story, August 31,2006.)

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PETRON doesn’t seem to care that these people are starving to death. According to our sources in Iloilo, the company went to Naoway Island–one of the areas hardest hit by the oil slick–only once, with 9 kilos of rice for 100 people and nine cans of sardines. The company and its high and mighty officials have yet to return to donate more food.

Aside from cutting your hair, please send food, clothing and medicine for the Guimarasnons. I believe ABS-CBN Foundation is already helping in relief operations. It’s address is ELJCC Bldg. Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City 1103, Philippines; Telephone: (+63 2) 924 2740 / (+63 2) 922 4842.

Every little effort counts.

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