There’s a gray November in the soul

October 5, 2006


An excerpt…

More than a month before, the idyllic island-province of Guimaras was invaded by sludge so thick and so grimy, spillage from a tanker that the Coast Guard had allowed to sail in bad weather, with the skipper’s license out-dated, and a listing in its hold detected from its port of origin. Everyone and his mother was shocked. The Doña made several trips to the island, to “console” and to “assure” that everything will be taken care of. She was oh, so concerned about the “bad image” the oil spill would give to her much-vaunted tourism program.

But that was more than a month ago. The head teacher of an elementary school in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, reports that workers of the Petron Corporation which owns the unwanted oil, and which had been making some appearances at repairing the damage, had literally “covered-up” the sludge in Barangay Tando, the worst-hit of all the coastal villages. Last September 14, she discovered that the oil sludge sticking to the trunks of coconut trees and the breakwater had not been removed; they were merely covered by a thin layer of cement.

Meanwhile, her students and their parents are getting sick from the noxious fumes emitted by the unwanted sludge. They have run out of food, of livelihood, of hope. Meanwhile too, people in Luzon, in Mindanao and the rest of the Visayas whose shores have not been dirtied, seem to have forgotten, media included. Just like dengue-carrying mosquitoes, the memory of Guimaras and the criminal negligence that brought it about, is merely swept away. Nobody will pay enough for the anguish of the people of Guimaras because in this country, if crime pays, how could criminal negligence be made to pay?

(For the rest of the column, click Malaya, Oct. 5, 2006.)


One comment

  1. The only thing I can say is, we in Chemrez Inc. just had our plant oil-based oil spill dispersant accredited with Coast Guard as safe and effective in dispersing oil sludge even on shorelines. It is readily available at PHP 120 per liter, cheaper than any imported oil spill dispersant…. we’ve been knocking on all doors in order to get this product used in Guimaras, we’re even willing to give some pails of the product for free, but nobody would accept our offer of help. Nobody! And yet we’ve done everything to prove that it’s safe and effective.

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