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How to rehab Guimaras?

November 27, 2006

Scientists gather for Solar Oil Spill today

By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The Guardian Iloilo,
Nov. 27, 2006

THE two-day scientific conference on the Solar Oil Spill in Guimaras Island begins today to find means on how to rehabilitate the island-province and to establish protocols and responses to future oil spill incidents.

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(Dr. Glenn Aguilar, UPV chancellor/Photo from The Guardian)

Dr. Glenn Aguilar, University of the Philippines-Visayas (UPV) chancellor, said the scientific conference, which will be held at the Iloilo Grand Hotel, is the next step after the cleanup of Guimaras.

Aguilar added it is important to immediately restore the environment of the island and bring back normalcy to its communities, particularly the fisherfolks.

The UPV and the World Wildlife Fund led by Lorenzo Tan spearhead the conference.

In an earlier interview, Tan said the conference will identify the areas that need rehabilitation and the possible sources of assistance, particularly foreign donors.

“There should be credible scientific findings that must be presented to probable donors so they can extend help to us in the effort to help Guimaras get back on its feet. If they see the hard evidence on the long term effects of the oil spill on the environment, concerned institutions would be there to extend support,” Tan said.

Tan said the conference will pave the way for a national oil spill protocol/policy that will guide the national government’s responses to such ecological accidents.

One of the initial suggestions presented by scientists and environmentalists to President Arroyo during her three visits to Guimaras August is to prohibit tankers or ships carrying hazardous cargo from sailing near sensitive areas.

Another proposed policy is to phase out all single-hulled tankers by 2010 although this suggestion is seen to meet stiff opposition from ship owners and liners.

Dr. Rex Sadaba, a renowned UP mangrove expert, will present the result of his studies on 16 sites around Guimaras.

Sadaba confirmed that some mangroves in the island have been dying after the oil spill but he held his conclusions until today’s conference.

Sadaba said experts in other ecological sectors such as seaweeds and fishing grounds will also be present in the conference.

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