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Oil spill ‘victims’ in city still waiting for assistance

October 3, 2006

By DAVID ISRAEL SINAY
Panay News, Oct. 3, 2006

ILOILO City – A month after blobs of bunker oil hit the waters and shores of coastal barangays here, displaced fisher folk are still waiting for help from the city government or from Petron Corp. itself.

Some 300 hundred fisher folk from Brgys. Calumpang, Sto. Niño Sur, Calaparan and Sto. Niño Norte in Arevalo district reported total loss of livelihood, said the City Agriculture Office.

The oil blobs reached Iloilo City two weeks after the August 11 sinking on the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait of M/T Solar 1 carrying 2.1 million liters of Petron’s bunker fuel oil.

“Almost 100 percent of the fisher folk along the coastal barangays were displaced,” City Agriculturist Josegil Parreñas told Panay News.

Since the oil spill, much of the attention focused in the island province of Guimaras.

The scattered blobs of oil were not as pronounced as those found in Guimaras and measured about one to two inches in diameter, Mayor Jerry Treñas had said after visiting the area right after he was informed of the oil sheen.

Parreñas said the city government gave financial assistance to the fisher folk, but it was not enough.

Prior to the presence of the oil blobs, fisher folk in the barangays concerned used to have an average daily income of P300.

“Mayor Treñas promised a workshop to teach residents how to go about with their compensation claims. But until now, we are still waiting for it,” Parreñas said.

For a month already, the fisher folk are waiting for alternative livelihood. The waiting has made them unproductive despite the fact that this is “fingerlings season” – the time when fishes are spawning. The fisher folk would catch the fingerlings and sell them to fishpond operators.

Considered as the worst oil spill in the country, the sunken vessel continues to threaten coastal residents of Iloilo City of further damage as it continue to leak bunker fuel oil – albeit at a much lesser volume – underneath the Guimaras Strait.

“Petron has not extended help to the residents,” Parreñas lamented.

The fingerling gatherers (semilyeros) are considered the worst affected by the oil blobs. The sludge had driven away “mother fishes”.

“Ground dwellers like crabs and shells were also affected,” Parreñas also said.

Parreñas said Treñas formed a committee to assess the extent of damage of the oil spill on the livelihood of the fisher folk. The committee is composed of the Crisis Management Center, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Agriculture Office, Councilor Perla Zulueta (as chairman of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Committee on Environmental Protection) and Councilor Ely Estante (chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Agriculture).

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