Grief and Grime in Guimaras

September 7, 2006

greenpeace-called-on-the-phili-9.jpgMangrove roots effected by oil slick on Guimaras Island. Source: Greenpeace (http://www.greenpeace.org)

By Rep. Nereus Acosta

ABOARD a Coast Guard helicopter, the aerial view of Guimaras and its lush islets is one vast expanse of sheer beauty. Sen. Pia Cayetano, Rep. Miles Roces and I were on a joint congressional inspection of the area. Spread before us was the Taklong Marine Sanctuary in the southeastern tip of the island, a declared protected seascape of thriving mangrove forests, unspoiled reefs and rich fishing grounds.

That is why the devastating oil spill off the island’s southern coast is nothing short of heart-rending. The oil slick emanating from the sunken MT Solar I is a ghastly swath on the waters of Guimaras Strait, ominously snaking its way into pristine coves and inlets. Gov. Rahman Nava was reduced to tears as he earnestly made a public appeal to save his province, grieving over the catastrophe that has befallen an island internationally-recognized for its sustainable fisheries and ecosystems protection programs. On land, we visited a barangay where volunteers and local folk were frantically scooping thick black sludge from beaches and tidal flats with rudimentary tools and with little protective gear. The stench from the low-grade bunker fuel was noxious. The look on their faces was of weariness and seeming despair.

For the entire piece, click neric-grief-and-grime.pdf.


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