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Compensation does not bar future claims by Guimaras fishers

January 11, 2007

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer, 2007-01-09

ILOILO CITY – The final agreement signed by those affected by the Petron oil spill in Guimaras would not bar the claimants from seeking compensation for future oil spills coming from the sunken Solar I, an official of the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund said.

IOPC Fund claims manager Patrick Joseph disputed the claims of some groups, including the Archdiocese of Jaro, that the settlement agreement was disadvantageous to the claimants.

“I think there is some misinformation,” Joseph said in an interview.
He explained that the agreement “specifically refers to the sinking of the M/T Solar I on August 11, 2006.”

The one-page agreement in English and with a Hiligaynon translation is signed by claimants upon receipt of Land Bank checks from the IOPC as payment for economic losses resulting from the oil spill.

In the agreement, the date of the sinking of the tanker and the resulting oil spill was specifically indicated, Joseph pointed out.

The tanker sank 13 miles southwest of Guimaras Island while transporting more than 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel oil for Petron from Bataan to Zamboanga. The Coast Guard believes around 300,000 liters had spilled into the sea, contaminating coastal areas with oil sludge.

“If there is another catastrophic release of oil from the wreck, then we will repeat this process again and it will be a new date and we will compensate the same claimants one more time,” Joseph said.

Lawyers tapped by the Archdiocese of Jaro has said the agreement would prevent the residents from making future claims in the event that another oil spill happens before the remaining bunker fuel inside the wreck is removed.

The Church along with environmental groups and non-government organizations have also called for higher compensation for the victims, claiming that the amount being paid by the IOPC is not enough to cover the losses of the residents.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has backed the demands of residents of Nueva Valencia town in Guimaras for just compensation of the victims and the full cleanup and rehabilitation of the affected areas.

“I am in sympathy and solidarity with you in expressing your just demands from the government and Petron for restitution for the damages brought about by the oil spill last August 2006. The government and Petron have the moral obligation to hasten the full relief, rehabilitation and recovery of your tragically damaged villages,” Lagdameo said in a letter addressed to parishioners of Nueva Valencia.

Joseph said the amount of compensation was derived from IOPC field surveys and based on the type of fishing the claimants were engaged in. The IOPC also computed the claimants’ daily earnings before the oil spill and their total losses for 12 weeks.

“We did not arrive at these numbers from nothing,” he said.

The IOPC started paying claimants from the Nueva Valencia on Tuesday at the Iloilo provincial capitol and will finish releasing the checks on January 20. Nueva Valencia is the worst hit among five municipalities of Guimaras and accounts for 5,211 of the total 13,000 claimants.

The IOPC will give out P57.39 million to Nueva Valencia claimants, according to Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga.

Many of the claimants said the compensation was smaller than what they needed to cover their losses but they said they needed the money immediately.

“I have no choice even if I deserve more,” said Emily Yufalen, 24, a fish vendor from the island-village of Guiwanon and a mother of three. She received a check worth P13,947.

The victims received amounts ranging from P3,000 to P30,000 depending on the type of fishing they were engaged in and their income.

Joseph said victims who were not satisfied with the amount offered by the IOPC should show proof to show that the IOPC calculations were wrong.

He said they would be willing to re-assess the computations for damages “if it is proven that (the victims’) losses are more than what we have assessed.”

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6 comments

  1. Hi, would you happen to have specific info on the types of marine species that were affected during the Guimaras Oil Spill, particularly those species which are considered “seafood” ? I’m trying to get in touch with the UPV for info but to no avail… I’ve gone through your archives and found some helpful snippets but i was hoping to look for technical, science-based info and a list of those species affected for a project I am doing on managing seafood safety after an oil spill, particularly, during the Guimaras spill. thanks!


  2. You can try calling the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources headed by Malcolm Sarmento or the Southeast Asian Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Seafdec). Just google for their web sites to get their contact nos.

    You might want to email also Dr. Karsten Schroeder, coordinator of the Cebu-based German Development Service at: karsten.schroeder@ded.de. DED helped Seafdec in the coral reef assessment of Guimaras, which also, I believe, covered the fish stock evaluation.

    Thanks for visiting the site.


  3. hi! i noticed that you posted the link to the publication on seafood safety, perhaps in response to my request earlier =) I just want to say thanks! …however, i already have this document and was hoping you could point me to someone/somewhere who has local information specifically with regards to the affected species from Guimaras =) I have the newspaper articles already but if you have access/contact to any documents from the UPV or Dr. Sadaba’s survey, it would be greatly appreciated! thank you so much =)


  4. Umm, nope. The link to Managing Seafood Safety after an Oil Spill has been on this site since October.

    As for UPV, their contact nos. are on their web site. Just click on the link under Blogroll. Thanks.


  5. wow! thanks! =)


  6. You’re welcome.



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