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Defense chief recommends P20M more for oil spill; NBI told to look into oil smuggling

September 14, 2006

By Carla Gomez
and Tetch Torres
Inquirer

BACOLOD CITY – Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr., chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, has recommended the release of another 20 million pesos to Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental for oil spill response and rehabilitation activities.

In Manila, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate possible oil smuggling activities undertaken by the sunken tanker M/T Solar I.

In his recommendation to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Cruz asked for the release of 10 million pesos for Guimaras, and five million pesos each for Iloilo and Negros Occidental provinces.

Cruz said it was understood that Petron Corp. will refund the amount to the National Treasury.

He told the President that the Department of Budget and Management also released 20 million pesos to the three central Philippine provinces last August 24.

The MT Solar I, carrying 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel, sank off the coast of Guimaras, triggering an oil spill that has hit the shores of Guimaras and two towns of Iloilo, and remains a threat to Negros Occidental.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez claimed there is substantial evidence of possible oil smuggling activities, citing a hole he said the Japanese salvage ship Shinsei Maru found on the tanker, which sank off Guimaras Island August 11, triggering one of the country’s worst oil spills.

“We have substantial evidence that a portion of the vessel was intentionally opened to siphon the oil from one of the containers…one of the containers (was) already empty before the vessel sank,” Gonzalez said.

The NBI also formally filed before the DOJ a complaint for violation of Commonwealth Act 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law against the incorporators of Solar I owner, Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation.

Gonzalez said a formal preliminary investigation will be conducted on the complaint.

(For the full stories, click P20M and NBI, Sept. 14, 2006.)

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