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Worst of the oil spill is behind us, says Petron exec

September 6, 2006

• But Negros says removal of tanker ‘unconditional’

By Carla Gomez

BACOLOD CITY – (UPDATE) A top official of Petron Corp. on Wednesday said the company believed the worst part of the Visayas oil spill was over.

“We feel the worst is behind us,” said Jose Campos, Petron vice president for marketing, in a press conference here. (Site manager: See GMA story below. Why is she echoing the same line? Your guess is as good as mine. Wink!)

But an environmentalist who attended the press conference disputed Campos’ claims, saying the environmental disaster could not be considered over as long as the sunken M/T Solar I remained at the bottom of the sea.

The Negros Occidental Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) shared this view, passing a resolution Tuesday stressing their demand for the removal of the tanker and its cargo is unconditional.

Governor Joseph Marañon and Negros Occidental mayors at the PPOC and PDCC meeting said that the tanker and the oil would continue to be a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over Western Visayas.

Marañon said a copy of the resolution would be sent to President Macapagal Arroyo and the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

(Click Remove tanker for the full story.)

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FINALLY Joey Campos has decided to face the media. Petron executives probably realized that they were shooting themselves in the foot by having their usual spokeswoman Virginia Ruivivar doing the talking. (But try not to blame her. Her script was prepared by her bosses and the firm’s legal eagles I think. Poor girl.)

Campos sounds like he knows what he’s talking about and explains the Petron side well. Unfortunately, he isn’t telling the truth either, as can be gleaned from the reports by provincial papers (which sadly, are no longer being picked up by their desk editors here in Manila. I wonder why.) Even the Coast Guard says the oil is still leaking from the tanker. So how can the “worst of the oil spill” be behind us Joey?

Cleanup isn’t finished. Oil spill is on its way to Negros Occidental and a shift in the waves and the wind will bring it to the Sulu Sea where more marine resources will be affected. Livelihoods of the fisherfolk and seaweed farmers have yet to be restored. The surroundings of Guimaras have to be rehabilitated. Worst is over? Really now.

I saw Joey Campos on Dong Puno’s show Viewpoint today, with some forgettable DOST official talking about oil-eating microbes who couldn’t even say when the government will release these friendly bacteria. Slow, slow, response as usual. My question was, “Is Petron really trying to contain the oil spill, or the news coverage? Why is its PR and Ad agencies distributing payola to local journalists?” Is it because Petron can’t bear to read and hear the truth? Darn. Dong didn’t read my comment.

Btw, for those wondering about the supposed junket Petron’s bright PR gals and guys were trying to hatch for Iloilo reporters today to get them away from covering the presidentita in Guimaras, I hear that no one joined. Good for you guys! Don’t let these Petron lackeys underestimate your honesty and commitment to the truth.

Meanwhile, according to Joey Campos’ friend who texted me after Dong’s show, “He is not as stupid as he projects. he lways tells me dat wen der r 1,001 opinions invited, jst act stupid.” Aha! your secret’s out Joey.

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