Archive for November, 2006

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From our mailbox…VSSQ donations update

November 30, 2006

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Hi All,

First off, Happy Holidays!

Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening on our latest donation endeavor. We had a shipment of donations last Saturday…. Employees from Accenture 6750 (through the supervision of Dru! — you rock, man! ) generously donated 9 boxes of clothes, assorted food items, and medicine. We also got a load of donations from Mr. Jason Quema in form of used clothes. Kudos to you, guys and gals!

These donations were shipped via 2Go by VSSQ volunteers Archie Abellar and Jason Quema (thanks for the help, guys!) and will be received by the VSSQ Iloilo team hopefully by the end of this week. Will try to post pics soon 😉

The donation drive doesn’t stop here. We welcome donations from you and your friends, and any help you can give to our cause. 🙂 We’ll be scheduling a donation drive shipment by the end of December (or early January) again, so let us know if you know of people who might wanna give some more donations. After, ’tis the season of giving!

Remember, we CAN make a difference!

Cheers,

Lette Teodosio
Volunteer
Visayan Sea Squadron

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Toll fees on oil tankers eyed

November 30, 2006

BY ROMY AMARADO
Visayan Daily Star,
Nov. 30, 2006

AS an offshoot of the Guimaras oil spill, the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas wants the Maritime Industry Authority to consider the imposition of toll fees on oil tankers passing through its inner seas.

During its full council meeting in Dumaguete City, Tuesday, the RDC said in a resolution that the proposal to impose the fees should be among the preventive measures to prevent another oil spill.

The amount generated from toll fess could be used for clean-up activities in the event of another oil spill and for marine disaster mitigation, it added.

The resolution noted that Marina may be the appropriate agency to evaluate the proposal since it is included among its functions aimed at preventing marine pollution in navigable waters of the Philippines.

The proposal was taken up by the Development Administration Committee of the RDC during the committee meting earlier where the need to institute measures to prevent the occurrence of another Guimaras Oil Spill was realized.

The RDC also said this may require the support of the local government units as the Local Government Code states that the Sanggunian may prescribe the terms and conditions and fix the rates for the imposition of toll fess or charges for the use of any public road, pier or wharf, waterway, bridge, ferry or telecommunications system funded and constructed by the LGU concerned.

The committee, however, decided to refer the matter first to the Marina.

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Guimaras fisherfolk count huge toll of spill on livelihood

November 30, 2006

By Jonathan Mayuga
Correspondent
BusinessMirror, Nov. 30, 2006

NUEVA VALENCIA, Guimaras—Thousands of fishermen directly affected by the oil spill that devastated this town along with three others in the province of Guimaras have expressed gratitude to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund or IOPC for coming to the rescue.

While they hailed the IOPC, they expressed dismay that Petron Corporation, which owns the bunker fuel oil that “messed up” their source of livelihood, seemingly abandoned them and broke its promise to compensate them for the damage caused by the spill.

Mayor Diosdado Gonzago said the IOPC had promised to release the claims of around 4,500 fishermen before Christmas, and he expects 1,000 more to file their claims.

He said the compensation ranges between P3,000 and P24,000, depending on their level of income before the August 11 sinking of M/T Solar 1, the oil tanker carrying Petron’s 2.3 million liters of bunker fuel oil.

A massive information campaign was launched on Wednesday in this town by Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava concerning the environmental impact assessment recommended by experts who attended a two-day conference in Iloilo City, to tackle the Guimaras oil spill.

The IOPC has also promised to release an initial P22 million for the compensation claims of 1,400 fishermen in the town of San Lorenzo, who are among the 3,700 claimants in the town alone.

For a bachelor like Rex Cayanan, 24, a resident of barangay Tando, the compensation he will get of P13,000 will be a blessing, considering that he needs money more than ever because Christmas is near.

He said his brother Rico, 18, will receive P8,000 and two other sisters will get P3,000 each.

Cayanan, however, was dismayed at the way Petron’s representative allegedly “bargained” to have their compensation reduced.

According to Cayanan, he should receive P100,000 at least, considering the damage to his motorized banca and fishing nets, but he said Petron’s representative told them it would take a very long time if they ask for a bigger amount.

“That’s why I settled for P13,000. Anyway, this would be a big help for me and my [extended] family,” he said.

For Samuel Gandiela, 41 and his wife Maria Theresa, 35, who will receive P12,000 and P3,000 each, however, the amount is not even a quarter of what they actually lost because of the spill.

They are also concerned over the long-term effect of the spill on their livelihood, noting that since the spill, their catch was drastically reduced from a high of 20 to 30 kilos a day to a low of five kilos to nothing at all.

For Felomino Galbe, 64, and wife Myrna, 54, who will receive P20,000 and P3,500 each, the compensation is not enough compared to the trouble of having to borrow money from loan sharks. His motorized banca and fish net, which stretches up to 600 meters and costing P285 per meter, were destroyed.

“Petron promised to shoulder the cost of fixing our bancas and buying us fish net, but it broke its promise,” he said.

Worse, they said Petron had abandoned the clean-up operation in their barangay with still so much work to do.

“Who will do it now that they stopped the clean-up?” they said.

It was learned that Petron had stopped the clean-up in most areas in Nueva Valencia as early as October, prompting those who depend on the P300 fee they receive for the cleanup to return to fishing, with little hope of catching fish enough for their subsistence.

“Sometimes, we eat shells even if they taste bad because we have no choice,” one fisherman told BusinessMirror.

In at least three barangay in this town, the oil spill is blamed for the continuing deterioration of mangrove areas, including that of the University of the Philippines- Visayas Marine Reserve in Taklong, Nueva Valencia.

Nestor Yunque, a marine biologist and head of the UP Visayas Marine Reserve said the oil spill, or what remains of it, continues to cause the death of mangroves, which in some areas has now reached up to 40 meters.

He said officials are checking the possibility that the spraying of dispersants by the Philippine Coast Guard could have aggravated the situation, noting that in some areas, there are signs the oil spill’s impact had ceased to affect the mangroves—the most affected among those hit by the oil slick.

Although the oil spill has very little impact on fish, the fact that most people think they are not safe to eat even though the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) certified they are safe for human consumption has severely affected their livelihood.

“Who would eat fish when people think they are contaminated?” Yunque said.

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RDC sends Marina proposal to impose toll on oil tankers

November 30, 2006

The Freeman 11/30/2006

THE Regional Development Council of Central Visayas has referred to the Maritime Industry Authority for study a proposal to impose toll on oil tankers sailing through inner seas in the country.

The proposal was raised during the RDC full-council meeting in Dumaguete City last Tuesday, through its development administration committee.

The proposal was also an offshoot to the oil spill in Guimaras that was deemed as the country’s worst environmental disaster, which has affected the health and livelihood of people in that place and neighboring islands.

The idea of toll imposition might be included among the proposed measures to prevent another oil spill that have been under discussion at the national level, through the direction of President Gloria Arroyo.

Toll revenues could be used for clean-up activities or marine disaster mitigation in case another oil spill occurs, the proposal said.

RDC chairman George Arnaiz, also the governor of Negros Oriental, commented that the proposal is timely after another barge loaded with oil debris from Guimaras sunk in Misamis Oriental last week.

Marina is the appropriate government authority to evaluate the proposal the agency’s functions include formulating plans, policies, standards, procedures, rules and regulations.

Marina is also tasked to develop the maritime industry by enforcing rules for the prevention of marine pollution in navigable waters of the Philippines, undertaking researches and studies and submitting reports and recommendations. (Gregg M. Rubio)

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P22M being readied for San Lorenzo fisherfolk

November 29, 2006

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today, Nov. 29, 2006

ABOUT P22 million is being readied by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) for the compensation claims of 1,400 fisherfolk in the town of San Lorenzo, Guimaras. The 1,400 fisherfolk are among the 3,700 fishermen claimants in the island-province after they incurred damages on their livelihood as a result of the Solar 1 oil spill.

IOPCF Deputy Director/Technical Advisor Joe Nichols said the fisherfolk have agreed to settle their claims on the basis of IOPCF’s offers.

Nichols added that additional claims are still coming in. There are some 13,000 farmers in the island province of Guimaras claiming damages.

The compensation package designed for the fisherfolk range from P6,000 to P30,000. The compensation claims are good for 12 weeks or three months. Claims will be made available in the form of check payments from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

As a matter of IOPCF policy, only the qualified claimant can get the check from the bank and no other parties are authorized to transact or receive the check on behalf of the claimant. This cut downs any dubious claims from any individuals or groups.

The agreement between the claimants and the IOPCF and The Shipowners Protection Limited is considered a welcome development. Nichols said he is looking forward to making substantial payments to all the affected fisherfolk and resort operators before Christmas.

Earlier, the IOPCF also paid some P396,888 to 21 tour operators out of 34 claimants from their group. The IOPCF corrected its earlier report that 22 tour operators already received their compensation claims.

Computations of the compensation depends on the kind of resort, number of visitors and the corresponding losses it incurred during the oil spill. Should a resort owner demand a much higher compensation, the IOPCF will ask the claimant to back up his claim with supporting papers or documents.

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IMAGINE that! P30,000 in payment for untold losses in one’s livelihood. Nobody knows how long the fishermen will not be able to work. And yet, they all agreed to accept such low payments. Does anyone get the feeling that the fisherfolk are being shortchanged by IOPCF? Where was the provincial government during these negotiations? Who helped the fisherfolk negotiate for the oil spill claims? Dang! Where are the ambulance chasers when you need them?

Nawalan na ng hanap-buhay, na-denggoy pa! Ay, caramba!

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Agriculture dep’t trains Guimaras farmers on veggie production

November 29, 2006

THE Department of Agriculture’s regional field unit 6 conducted a marathon training in vegetable production for farmers affected by the Petron oil spill last Aug. 11. The training covered five municipalities in Guimaras.

Training started in the municipality of Sibunag last November 21 and 22 and was attended by 50 farmer-participants.

According to Jindra Linda L. Demeterio, OIC of DA-RFU 6, the training will equip the identified beneficiaries with basic vegetable production knowledge and post-harvest handling with emphasis on container-based gardening.

“The participants will be given garden tools such as a hoe and trowel and open-pollinated variety (OPV) vegetable seeds like eggplants, sweet pepper, pole sitao and squash. Also one unit drum for rain trapping and one sack organic fertilizer will be availed by the farmer participants,” Dir. Demeterio added.

The municipality of San Lorenzo hosted the second training where some 50 farmers participated in the lecture/discussion and workshop on new technologies on vegetable production.

Nueva Valencia, which was badly affected by the country’s worst oil spill caused by the sinking of M/T Solar I, will be the third to host the training on Nov. 27 to 29, 2006. This will be conducted in two separate venues namely, Barangay Igdarapdap and Barangay Lucmayan, with 40 and 50 expected farmer participants, respectively.

The fourth and fifth trainings will be held at the municipalities of Jordan and Buenavista on Dec. 5 and 6, and Dec. 7 and 8, respectively. Some 60 farmers are also expected to attend the training.

The DA-RFU 6 allotted P10,000 for every municipality for the conduct of this training for the farmers who requested for the vegetable seeds.

Nelly Felarca and Felecitas Neturada, who are in-charge of vegetable production at Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC), were the resource persons for the training, together with technicians from provincial and municipal units.

Felarca said the training focused on producing organic or chemical-free vegetables in the households. This can be an alternative livelihood for the farmers who requested for specific vegetable seeds from the DA.

Topics discussed were agro-ecosystem analysis, an overview of vegetables industry, crops management, crops protection, container vegetable production and post-harvest handling. (The News Today, Nov. 29, 2006)

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Experts still ‘clueless’ on oil spill damage, rehab

November 29, 2006

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PCAMRD deputy director Cesar Pagdilao, NDCC executive officer Glenn Rabonza, WWF president Lorenzo Tan, UPV chancellor Dr. Glenn Aguilar (standing left) and Petron chair Nicasio Alcantara in a chit-chat before the press conference on the two-day scientific consultation on the Solar 1 Oil Spill. (FAA, The Guardian Iloilo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The Guardian Iloilo
Nov. 29, 2006

HOW long will it take to rehabilitate Guimaras and how much will it cost to bring back the island to its feet after the devastating effects of the M/T Solar I oil spill?

Even the scientific community is still groping for answers as they continue to project the actual damage and the length and cost of rehabilitation of the island province.

Scientists, economists and sociologists yesterday concluded the two-day scientific conference on the Solar Oil Spill aimed at laying down the foundations for the rehabilitation of Guimaras, 109 days after the worst ecological accident in the country hit Guimaras on August 11.

After the presentation of 43 various papers on the environmental, social and economic effects of the oil spill, figures on the actual damage and duration of the rehabilitation process have yet to be determined.

The conference was spearheaded by the University of the Philippines-Visayas (UPV), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Petron Corp.

Dr. Glenn Aguilar, UPV chancellor, said the conference was meant to integrate all scientific findings of “rapid assessments” conducted in the aftermath of the oil spill.

Aguilar said it is very difficult to come up with an overall status of Guimaras as the scientific studies were done on a component basis.

“Each assessment was conducted in their own unique focus and time frame although the same methodology was used. We still have to polish and strengthen their findings so we can come up with a holistic picture (of the island). The studies were done on a very rapid manner so we must give the experts time to fix their reports,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar said the outputs of the two-day conference were not very detailed and will be subject to another gathering after Christmas break.

The UPV chancellor also debunked notions that the assessments, particularly on the environment and health aspects, were conflicting.

“The data presented even reinforced each study. We will just have to subject them to a more focused discussion and intensive polishing of the experts,” Aguilar said.

Lory Tan, WWF president, said the lack of data on oil spill in tropical countries like the Philippines is hampering the projections on rehabilitation of the island.

Tan said the conference achieved the aim of extracting data which will be used to map out protocols and responses to similar ecological accidents.

Interestingly, Guimaras Governor JC Rahman Nava was absent in the press conference. But General Glenn Rabonza, executive officer of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said Nava already has a plan for their province “which will be enriched by the scientific data.”

The conference was attended by more than 100 participants who discussed major topics on biological, physico-chemical and fisheries, socio-economics and health aspects of the oil spill.

One of the scientific results Aguilar presented during the press conference was the effects of the oil spill on mangroves.

At present, 45 percent of mangroves in Guimaras are contaminated with five of 30 species already dying.

Rapid assessments also show no massive destruction of corals. Mortalities were also notices in some seagrass areas covered by all but the effects are insignificant in terms of total cover.

MORE ‘clueless’ news in SunStar and Visayan Daily Star. Pity.