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Victims get only P110M of $330M Guimaras compensation

April 3, 2007

2007-04-03
Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – Only P110 million of the $330 million (P15.8 billion) in compensation has been released to victims of the Guimaras oil spill even as officials said the siphoning of the remaining oil off the sunken tanker provided “closure” to the disaster.

The P110 million from the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) covered only 11,000 fishermen in Guimaras province, which was hardest bit by the slick. Of these, 250 have not yet claimed their checks, said Carlos Tan, health safety and environment manager of Petron Corp.

“The total amount [for compensation] is $330 million, but of course, that does not necessarily mean that they [IOPC] are going to pay us $330 million,” he said.

Tan said oil spill victims must present a “viable and fair” claim before they could draw from the IOPC fund.

Petron chartered the M/T Solar I which sank in rough seas off Guimaras on August 11, 2006 while on its way to Zamboanga City. Loaded with an estimated two million liters of bunker fuel, the sinking triggered a massive oil spill in the central Philippines.

Only 9,000 liters of bunker fuel remained in the Solar I’s tanks when operations to siphon the remaining oil were undertaken recently.

After the Holy Week, Tan said 11,200 fishermen in Iloilo province would be compensated, with amounts ranging from P630 to P28,000.

“It depends upon the type of their livelihood. If they’re picking shellfish from the shoreline, of course they will have a low compensation. If you own a big ship with a crew of five or 10, of course you will get more,” Tan said.

Aside from damaging fishing grounds, the oil slick also affected resorts in the area.

“With the completion of the oil recovery operations from M/T solar I, this provides a sort of a closure…[It] will no longer pose a threat to further oil spills because it has been determined that there is no more oil underneath the ocean,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Glen Rabonza said.

Rabonza said the P867-million supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Guimaras and surrounding areas has been released.

Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said there were no immediate plans of recovering the Soar I’s wreckage from the seabed unless this is required for further investigation into the disaster.

“That will entail additional money. If you look at the economics of it, it will be more expensive to float it than let it lie on the [sea] floor,” Ebdane said.

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