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Donors spill in Guimaras

November 4, 2006

By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The Guardian Iloilo, Nov. 4, 2006

THE more donors who give aid to those affected by the Petron-Solar 1 oil spill in Guimaras, the better—provided they are properly accounted.

This was the reaction of Task Force Solar Oil Spill chief Rafael Lito Coscolluela on the numerous efforts to gather aid for the rehabilitation of Guimaras.

Guimaras officials led by Governor JC Rahman Nava held a Donors’ Forum with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and corporate foundations Oct. 26, 2006 at the Shirven Hotel in San Miguel, Jordan town.

Seeking to solicit funds for the rehabilitation of the island, the forum was organized by the Guimaras provincial government through its quick-response team, Task Force Sunrise.

Some 11 international funding and relief agencies vowed to help—Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the German Development Cooperation (GTZ), World Vision International and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others.

Petron Foundation, Mirant, Peace and Equity Foundation, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the Panay Rural Development Council represented NGOs and private foundations.

This month, a scientific community forum led by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) through the World Wildlife Foundation will draft a separate rehabilitation program based on the findings of various groups of experts assessing the damage caused by the oil spill to the island’s ecosystem.

The rehab plan will also be used to solicit funds from local and international organizations.

Coscolluela, reporting directly to the NDCC, said there is nothing wrong if the Guimaras leaders move apart from the intentions of the national government.

“We cannot stop them from making local initiatives to look for donations nor can we stop benefactors from giving aid to their desired recipients—although some groups might take advantage of generosity of donors,” Coscolluela said.

Coscolluela said donors should demand full accounting of their aid to any group asking help in behalf of the island-province.

Coscolluela, also President Arroyo’s adviser for Region 6, added that overlapping efforts to gather help for Guimaras will not complicate its rehabilitation.

Kung mag-doble, swerte ang recipient, e (If there are many donations, the recipient is lucky).

Coscolluela said there’s even competition among NGOs with their own advocacies for Guimaras, saying, “While we cannot stop solicitors and benefactors from doing their own thing, we can only hope that everything they shell out will be accounted for.”

Guimaras is still recovering from the effects of the oil spill triggered by the sinking of M/T Solar 1 last August 11, 2006, some 21 kilometers off Guimaras’s southern coast.

The worst ecological disaster in the country contaminated 1,140 hectares of marine reserves, 234 kms. of coastline, 400 has. of mangrove, 100 has. of seaweed farms and 900 has. of fishponds.

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Hmmm…is it my imagination or doesn’t Gov. Lito’s statements sound like a thinly-veiled warning to donors about extending financial assistance to the provincial government of Guimaras? What a shame, considering that there is an outpouring of support to the island by many foreign and local donors. As usual there is some amount of politicking involved here as Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava isn’t exactly the administration man on the island. But by publishing the complete list of donors to the province in Task Force Sunrise’s web site, and creating a separate trust fund for the oil spill victims, the provincial government is taking the step in the right direction of transparency.

Now compare these to the national agencies like the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development. I’ve seen the web sites of all these key agencies, and there is hardly even a mention of the oil spill, much less a comprehensive list of donations sent to Guimaras through them. Sure let’s talk about transparency Gov. Lito. Maybe you can start on the national level?

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