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FINALLY! Semirara oil spill victims to receive compensation

October 21, 2006

SEMIRARA ISLAND, Caluya, Antique—Some 180 families of Barangay Semirara will receive long-awaited compensation for the damage caused by the grounding of a barge owned by the National Power Corp. (NPC) that resulted in an oil spill on December 18, 2005.

Energy Secretary Rafael P.M. Lotilla and Napocor President Cyril del Callar, accompanied by Rep. Exequiel B. Javier of Antique and provincial officials, turned over to barangay captain Reynante Lim Sr. the check worth P2,293.000.000 for the purchase of fishing boats and other fishing gears for the livelihood project that will enable the barangay folk to recover from the oil spill.

The Semirara Aqua Farmers and Fisherfolk Association will manage the Napocor-funded project.

Lim told The Times that they already have one deep-sea fishing boat and four service boats with complete fishing gears and accessories. He added that the P6.3 million given by the Napocor to about 180 families is equivalent to the lost income of the fishermen in one year.

Meanwhile, The Times learned that on September 14 the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) issued a certificate of completion to Napocor following its cleanup of Semirara Island, Caluya, Antique. Cdr. Allen T. Toribio of the Marine Environmental Protection Command of the PCG signed the certificate.

Among other accomplishments, the PCG noted that the National Power and the First Response Marine Services Inc., a duly accredited oil spill response organization, cleaned up some 113 hectares of shoreline and mangrove areas that were affected by the December 18 oil spill. Further clean-up activities through bioremediation was also completed, the PCG added. The cleanup was completed nine months after the oil spill incident.

As this developed, del Callar has approved the release of some P9 million as livelihood assistance and damage compensation to 180 affected families. Among the livelihood projects that will be implemented in Semirara are deep-sea fishing and seaweed, or lantay, farming.

“With the release of these funds, National Power is going one step beyond merely indemnifying the affected residents,” del Callar said. “By giving them sustainable sources of livelihood, we are actually empowering the residents of Semirara.”

By Napocor’s estimates, the processing of the claims of the Semirara residents will be completed by the end of the month.

It will be remembered that Power Barge 106 ran aground off the Coast of Semirara Island after encountering strong winds and waves due to inclement weather. More than 210,000 liters of Bunker C fuel oil spilled near the island due to the accident. (Ely Suyom, Manila Times, Oct. 21, 2006)

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LET’S cross our fingers (and our toes) it doesn’t take Petron and IOPC this long to fund the rehabilitation, and pay for the damages due the Guimarasnons. Oops, I forgot….Petron has no liability in the Guimaras oil spill case, right Joe Nichols?

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