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Petron cannot rest on its laurels

October 5, 2006

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FROM THE CENTER
with Rolly Espina

IF Petron believes that it can now relax and coast along with what it has accomplished, it is sadly mistaken. Neither Negrenses nor Ilonggos, much less Guimarasnons, have forgotten the unprecedented havoc on their environment.

For example, residents of Iloilo City’s coastal barangays are still waiting for Petron’s assistance for their livelihood projects. And they have become impatient. The promised aid has yet to reach them. And the fishermen, mostly fry-gatherers, have been frustratedly waiting for the livelihood assistance to replace what they used to earn from gathering fries which they sold to bangus fishpond owners and operators.

Even Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas has been chafing and asking Petron to honor its commitment.

And in Negros Occidental, Governor Joseph Marañon has not relaxed in assailing the national government and Petron for a definite timeframe on when the Solar I can be either refloated or its oil bunker siphoned off.

Time has failed so dampen the frustrations of Negrense coastal residents. For them, Solar I, still untouched, remains a time bomb that could disgorge anytime millions of liters of deadly oil.

Petron’s PR men may have thought the public uproar over the Solar I sinking has vanished. I am sorry to inform them that we have not forgotten that we still face a tremendous problem. And they must be able to allay public anxiety by the simple expedient of hammering out with the government and the salvage ship operators the deadline for action.

This is a problem that refuses to go away. Time only aggravates the public frustration over Petron’s wishy-washy attitude in solving the Solar I problem.

And it’s only a question of which will explode first – the public outcry or the bunker fuel still in the hold of Solar I. As they often say, sooner or later something’s gotta give. It is a mistake to misinterpret the seeming silence on the part of local residents and officials as forgetting the gravity of the threat.

Even some of our top government officials, who had made a beeline to Guimaras to help out local governments there cope with the problem, seem so have succumbed to the same attitude – that the concern over Solar I is over and will enable them to take thing s easy.

Sorry, boys, the game is not over yet. Watch for the fall out.

(From Visayan Daily Star, Oct. 5, 2006)

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