Petron denies cover-up in oil spill cleanup

October 20, 2006

Panay News, Oct. 20, 2006

ILOILO City – Officials and representatives of Petron Corp. admitted having initiated the brushing of cement on tarnished seawalls and stones heavily affected by the oil spill.

However, Petron Foundation Executive Director Malou Erni stressed that prior to the brushing (or painting) of cement on the seawalls and stones, “these were thoroughly cleaned of the bunker oil slick.”

Erni said the bunker fuel oil had blackened the breakwaters and stones; and because these could not be removed, “we brushed cement” to (make them attractive).

“It’s not a cover-up. We did not hide the bunker oil slick. If there was still oil on these seawalls and stones, the cement will not bond,” Erni said in a press briefing, yesterday.

Erni also confirmed that Petron Corp. is reducing its workforce in the cash for work program because the shores are no longer heavily smudged.

The workforce reduction got the ire of residents, particularly those of Brgy. Tando in Nueva Valencia town.

In a letter addressed to Nueva Valencia Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga, the Tando Barangay Council said the reduction in the workforce would make some families hungry because they could not still go fishing.

“We started reducing our workforce on October 9,” Erni told reporters.

Erni also disclosed that indeed sometime during the first week of October, residents under the cash for work scheme were paid P200, instead of P300 as stipulated in the payroll.

“We had half a day of work because of the bad weather. We did not anticipate that to happen,” she said.

According to her, Petron employees or leaders responsible in a barangay for the cash for work program “were given pre-printed payroll sheets with P300 for the payment of each worker” and “nakalimutan na nilang palitan iyon sa pagmamadali.”

Tama iyong P200 na sweldo nila. Hindi nga lang napalitan iyong nakalagay na amount sa payroll,” she said.

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