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Petron’s P80M PR budget

September 9, 2006

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What insurance money?

SO our sources were right. There is indeed trouble between the insurers and the owners of the sunken Solar I, the fuel-carrying tanker now resting at the bottom of the sea, and leaking its content in a slick that could create havoc to marine life for decades, or more. When the Petron official was so glibly assuring local governments and affected residents that they would be compensated for their losses from insurance money, many suspected he had his tongue in his cheek.

***

Then yesterday’s news came out that one insurance company does not feel it has any liability because the owners of the tanker had not paid the premiums for their coverage. As any private individual knows, nobody can get continued coverage unless one pays the premium on the policy issued. Now there is talk about the tanker owners threatening to sue the insurance company. Maybe they can get the insurers to pay, eventually. In the meantime, what about those promises to the victims of the spill?

***

So far, two insurance firms have hinted that they are rejecting the claims of the Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., owners of Solar I. These are Stronghold Insurance Co. Inc., and the Shipowners Mutual Protection Indemnity Association that has claimed the SMDC has violated their rules. Another one in Luxemburg complained about the qualifications of the ship captain of the Solar I. Did the Petron spokesman who came to give those wonderful assurances here know about these beforehand?

***

But what about those media whispers that Petron has set aside a budget of some P80 million for P.R. outfits to do damage control and for compliant media people to write only about the upbeat and the beautiful? A local editor said that, if true, they would do better by giving that money to the victims in Guimaras, or use it to remove Solar I from the Visayan sea. The deadly coating that the oil slick left over the shores of Guimaras cannot be removed by sugar-coated words only.

(For the rest of the piece, Vis. Daily Star, Sept. 8, 2006).

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