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Petron tries to have PR expenses reimbursed

January 4, 2007

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today, Jan. 3, 2007

NOT only are the residents affected by the oil spill file compensation claims with the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF), even Petron Corp. owner of the 2 million liters of bunker oil which spilled off the waters of Guimaras is filing reimbursements with the IOPCF.

An official of the IOPCF disclosed that Petron initially asked to be refunded P180 million but the Fund only released P60 million as the other expenses were not related to cleaning and disposal of oily debris in the areas affected by the oil spill.

IOPCF Deputy Director and Technical Advisor Joe Nichols said bulk of the reimbursements asked by the oil firm were “public relations expenses.”

Nichols said as a rule, IOPCF will only reimburse Petron in all its cleaning and disposal expenses.

He said the Fund could not refund expenses such as “bribes” to public officials, public relations, aid packages and food to the oil spill victims.

Nichols said Petron was so helpful with the Fund in organizing claims workshops but some of their claims were not pollution-related items.

The issue on alleged bribes involving four provincial board members of Guimaras cropped up two weeks ago.

Petron reportedly offered bribe money to Board members Allan Chavez, Rolando Gadnanan, Vicente de Asis and David Gano.

Of the four board members, only Gano immediately confirmed they were treated with lunch and were offered money when they went to Bulacan for a conference. Gano said he returned the money to Petron’s driver.

Meanwhile, it took weeks for Gadnanan, De Asis and Chavez to comment on the alleged bribe money. The three claimed they also returned the money.

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NOW that really is cheap! Petron wants to have its PR expenses reimbursed? I would think that even if the IOPCF allowed such items to be claimed, it still wouldn’t give the money to Petron because of its half-assed PR/media relations stunts!

If you recall, not only was Petron trying to bribe government officials aside from those already mentioned here, it was also trying to bribe local media in exchange for “happy news.” For awhile, its hired PR consultant was successful (despite the awfully low fees for the local media which I’ve been told started at P500…duh!). But after being scored for the dastardly deed, the company pulled the plug on the practice. Or so we thought. Apparently it’s now been targetting public officials.

Corporate social responsibility…indeed.

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