From the Center by Rolly Espina

October 29, 2006


ANTIQUE Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez must be happy over the fact that the oil spill in Semirara involved the oil from the National Power Corporation.

Now, she has nothing much to worry about. The firm, which is state-owned, recently paid a total of P8.2 million to the affected residents of Semirara Island.

Last Dec. 18, 2005, a Napocor barge ran around and spilled thousands of liters of bunker C fuel to the sea. It was considered the first and the worst ever of its kind until the Solar I sank off Guimaras province last Aug. 11 with some two million liters of bunker fuel.

Napocor had paid P6 million to some 187 claimants for damages to their livelihood caused by the oil spill.

The oil firm also provided livelihood assistance in the form of fishing boats and gear to the tune of about P2.2 million to the Semirara Cooperative Aqua Farmers and Folks Association.

Income generating projects implemented are deep-sea fishing and seaweed farming.

The turnover was spearheaded by Napocor president Cyril de Callar and was attended by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Antique Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez, Rep. Exequiel Javier, Semirara Barangay Captain Reynante Lim and Semirara Mining officials led by Isidro Consunji and George San Pedro.

An applause to officials of Napocor for rapidly processing the payment of claims to the affected Semirara residents.

On the other hand, we have seen on television some residents of a Guimaras barangay lodging their complaint against a municipal agricultural official for allegedly taking over the functions of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The complainants, of course, indicated a series of broken promises and even discrimination in the distribution of relief assistance. Including, worse, the conversion of their daily take of P300 to rice sans consultation with them.

I think it is time for Guimaras Governor Rahman Nava to take a direct hand in probing the questionable actuations of the aggie official. It may be also that the DSWD had not assigned a social welfare officer to the area. Then, Gov. Nava should remind the DSWD officials of the province that the assignment of the agriculture official to the assigned task be put down in writing and explained to the people of the barangay.

Guimaras folks have been chafing for sometime now about the slow pace of the decision-making process insofar as the siphoning of the remaining 1.9 million liters of bunker fuel out of Solar I.

They have a legitimate complaint also. It seems that the Petron had called a halt to the PR project of giving out P300 a day to affected residents for their part in the clean-up of the Guimaras shoreline.

That was apparently just a short-lived gesture that did not alleviate the loss of livelihood of the beleaguered residents.

More of a PR gesture rather than an exercise of social responsibility.

(For the rest of the column, click Rolly Espina, Visayan Daily Star, Oct. 28, 2006.)


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