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Editorial – Too much of a coincidence

November 28, 2006

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered a full-dressed investigation into the sinking of a barge carrying oil debris off the coast of Plaridel, Misamis Occidental last Monday. The Chief Executive could not have taken a more appropriate measure in dealing with the incident.

Under contract by giant oil firm Petron, the barge Ras was loaded with 630 tons of rock and sand with oil debris collected from the oil-spill clean-up operations in the island province of Guimaras when it sank after battering by huge waves.

The hammering on the barge with huge waves may have been the direct cause of the vessel’s sinking, but the probability is that the vessel was overloaded which contributed in no small measure to its going down the seabed.

Petron had barely scratched the surface, in a manner of speaking, of the bunker oil spillage brought about by the sinking of the tanker Solar I last August when a similar accident occurred in Misamis Occidental. The irony of it all is that Petron Corporation, is partly owned by the Philippine government; 40 percent of its stocks belongs to the government.

Greenpeace, a non-government organization engaged in environment protection, strongly suspects the barge incident which came just a little over three months after the sinking of the tanker Solar I loaded with more than a million litters of bunker oil was due to gross negligence. Indeed, the sinking of two vessels both contracted by Petron under similar circumstances is too much of a coincidence.

As a result of the oil spill in Guimaras, considered the worst-ever of its kind in this country. Many residents of the island province have lost their means of livelihood which is fishing. The possibility of a similar disaster in Misamis Occidental and nearby areas due to the sinking of an apparently overloaded barge is not remote.

Whoever in the oil firm was responsible for what amounts to a criminal neglect should be made to bear the full brunt of the law. (Mindanao Daily Mirror, Nov. 24, 2006)

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