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After the oil spill, what to do now

September 26, 2006

Letter to the Editor, Inquirer

THE oil spill off Guimaras reflects the insincere commitment of some corporations to social responsibility and the government’s failure to fulfill its regulatory role.

The oil spill should be properly called the “Petron/Solar 1 Oil Spill” to establish proper accountability.

It has been more than a month since the oil spill. The northeast monsoon (“amihan”) will soon start and this could spread the oil further to the south of Guimaras and west of Guimaras Strait, thus affecting more coastal areas. Current efforts to remove the oil spill from the beach merely provide cosmetic relief: the oil spill is only 1/10th of the Solar’s total cargo; the bulk of the 2 million liters of bunker fuel is still leaking from the sunken tanker at a reported 120 liters a day. Unless the remaining oil in the tanker is removed or siphoned, the cleanup activities will only expose villagers to health hazards.

The government and the regulators of the shipping industry are likewise accountable for the Petron/Solar oil spill. By giving the MV Solar 1 clearance to sail, despite clear violations of regulations, the concerned government agencies clearly failed to fulfill their responsibility.

We call on Petron Corp. and the owner of Solar I, Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., to:

. Expedite the removal of the MV Solar I from the sea or the siphoning of its remaining cargo of bunker oil;

. Desist from conducting workshops on indemnification and recognize the role of local government units and civil society to lead such processes;

. Indemnify the people of Guimaras for the long-term ecological damage, the loss of livelihood opportunities and the immediate and long-term effects on public health; and

. Uphold corporate social responsibility by adhering to the highest safety standards and ethical practice in their operations.

(For the entire piece, click After the spill, Sept. 26, 2006.)

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