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P22M being readied for San Lorenzo fisherfolk

November 29, 2006

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today, Nov. 29, 2006

ABOUT P22 million is being readied by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) for the compensation claims of 1,400 fisherfolk in the town of San Lorenzo, Guimaras. The 1,400 fisherfolk are among the 3,700 fishermen claimants in the island-province after they incurred damages on their livelihood as a result of the Solar 1 oil spill.

IOPCF Deputy Director/Technical Advisor Joe Nichols said the fisherfolk have agreed to settle their claims on the basis of IOPCF’s offers.

Nichols added that additional claims are still coming in. There are some 13,000 farmers in the island province of Guimaras claiming damages.

The compensation package designed for the fisherfolk range from P6,000 to P30,000. The compensation claims are good for 12 weeks or three months. Claims will be made available in the form of check payments from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

As a matter of IOPCF policy, only the qualified claimant can get the check from the bank and no other parties are authorized to transact or receive the check on behalf of the claimant. This cut downs any dubious claims from any individuals or groups.

The agreement between the claimants and the IOPCF and The Shipowners Protection Limited is considered a welcome development. Nichols said he is looking forward to making substantial payments to all the affected fisherfolk and resort operators before Christmas.

Earlier, the IOPCF also paid some P396,888 to 21 tour operators out of 34 claimants from their group. The IOPCF corrected its earlier report that 22 tour operators already received their compensation claims.

Computations of the compensation depends on the kind of resort, number of visitors and the corresponding losses it incurred during the oil spill. Should a resort owner demand a much higher compensation, the IOPCF will ask the claimant to back up his claim with supporting papers or documents.

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IMAGINE that! P30,000 in payment for untold losses in one’s livelihood. Nobody knows how long the fishermen will not be able to work. And yet, they all agreed to accept such low payments. Does anyone get the feeling that the fisherfolk are being shortchanged by IOPCF? Where was the provincial government during these negotiations? Who helped the fisherfolk negotiate for the oil spill claims? Dang! Where are the ambulance chasers when you need them?

Nawalan na ng hanap-buhay, na-denggoy pa! Ay, caramba!

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