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Petron liable for debris spill – prov’l board, senator

November 28, 2006

By Lizanilla J. Amarga
SunStar Cagayan de Oro
Nov. 28, 2006

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Senate President Manuel Villar and the Provincial Board want oil-giant Petron Corp. to face liability for the sinking off Plaridel, Misamis Occidental of a barge carrying debris from the oil spill cleanup in Guimaras.

Villar said in a press conference recently that Petron should be made to explain and held liable for the sinking of Barge Ras, which was carrying 59,000 sacks of oil-contaminated debris.

“This is the second time for Petron. They should face it,” he told local media.

Villar said that when Petron’s tanker spilled some 600 tons of bunker fuel in the seas off Guimaras in August, the Senate immediately allocated some P3 billion for the fast cleanup of the oil spill, which was already killing the environment in the affected areas.

He said he could not fathom why Petron would use a mere barge that was not designed to carry oil-soaked debris from the Guimaras oil spill to Northern Mindanao.

“I don’t know what happened to the fund, but we will look into this…on the part of Petron, they are still not free from this,” he said.

Stupendous act

The Provincial Board on Monday passed a resolution “strongly condemning Petron Corporation for its recklessness and total disregard for the safety and protection” of the environment.

Provincial Board public safety committee chairman Norris Babiera said the sinking of the barge contracted by Petron to carry the wastes is a disastrous threat to the aquatic resources of the place and possibly will also affect nearby areas including the province of Misamis Oriental.

“The use of a barge, which is not competent to carry hazardous materials like oil spill debris is a stupendous insult to our environmental and maritime safety laws,” the resolution reads.

Babiera said because of “this recklessness and stupendous act of Petron,” the lives of the people and the livelihood of fishers even in Misamis Oriental are “put into jeopardy.”

Toxic wastes banned

Babiera authored a separate ordinance banning the entry and passage of ships carrying hazardous toxic waste materials within a 15-kilometer distance from the shoreline of Misamis Oriental.

The ordinance, approved on first hearing Monday, provided penalties for violators.

Babiera said the move aims to protect the province’s rich marine resources.

He added that the Local Government Code of 1991 empowers local government units to legislate and enact laws under the general welfare clause, to conserve and protect its environment from destruction.

Civil Defense Office Director Salvador Estudillo admitted they have not started retrieving the 59,000 sacks of oil-spilled debris.

“The barge sank real deep and we are still looking for an equipment similar to the ones they used in the Guimaras oil spill,” Estudillo said.

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