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Oil spill compensation to start next month – pollution fund

November 22, 2006

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer, Nov. 22, 2006

ILOILO CITY – Residents of the central Philippine island of Guimaras affected by the oil spill may have something to look forward this Christmas.

The International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund hopes to make payments on claims for compensation by next month, IOPC Deputy Director Joe Nichols said.

IOPC representatives will meet with government officials and associations of fishermen of Guimaras this week to discuss the IOPC assessment the claims for compensation submitted by fishermen and other affected residents of the island-province.

The IOPC has received around 13,000 claims, mostly from fishermen who lost their livelihood after the tanker Solar I sank 13 miles southwest of Nueva Valencia on August 11.

The oil spill has affected 5,437 families or 26,740 persons. It also devastated the island’s rich marine life and some beach resorts.

Nichols said the number of claimants was causing some concern for IOPC because they estimated that the affected residents would be between 4,500 and 5,000 only.

But he said they have not rejected any claim even as they have not finished assessing all of them because of the large number.

“We are confident that we have accurate figures of losses they incurred,” Nichols told the Inquirer.

He said the IOPC would base the compensation on the type of fishing method and fishing equipment used.

The IOPC had come up with an average compensation figure to speed up the processing of claims because most claimants did not declare specific amounts.

The IOPC would release the compensation to claimants through individual checks issued through the Land Bank of the Philippines, which has a branch on the island.

Nichols said the IOPC has approved payment of some of the 20 claims made by resort operators.

“We hope to settle bulk of the claims within two to three months,” said Nichols.

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