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Oil spill claims frenzy a cover-up?

April 26, 2007

By Florence F. Hibionada
The News Today,
April 26, 2007

CHARGES and counter-charges continue to hound the latest stretch of distribution of oil spill compensation to thousands of victims in the Province of Guimaras.

With claimants now subject of scrutiny from camps of candidates vying the coveted seats here, The News Today (TNT) gathered that frustration and confusion has set in with the officials of the International Oil Petroleum Compensation (IOPC) Fund and both National and Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils.

In a report, TNT learned of the latest communication reportedly sent to Governor Rahman Nava and associates behind the multi-million disaster fund for the island-province’s rehabilitation.

Account the donations both in kind and cash, the governor was purportedly reminded anew amidst yet to be resolved and unaccounted assistance.

In fact, a deadline has been given to Nava even as more questions were raised on the discovery of private bank accounts that served as conduit of cash donations from former Guimaras residents who have now migrated abroad.

Radio reports mentioned at least four of said bank accounts now subject of further verification and validation which was said to have been long brought to the attention of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and counterparts in the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council.

Meantime, claims of thousands in the hardest hit Guimaras town await the ‘mercy’ of the IOPC and local officials with efforts linked to the Nava camp to suspend the check distribution.

“Kung may ginadudahan sila nga indi husto nga claim, nga-a kami iya nga madugay na nag-antus kag padayon nga naga-antus madalahig diri? Maluoy man si gob tani sa amon. Kung halos pa lang mahalin na lang kami sa Guimaras kay sobra na gid nga pamulitika ila. Asta san-o pa kami mahulat sang bulig nga ila man ginpasalig sa amon? (If they have questions on the veracity of the other claims, why let us who has long suffered and continue to suffer be dragged here? The governor should have pity on us. If only we could, we will leave Guimaras because of too much politics. Until when are we going to wait for the help that they have also promised us?)” a woman claimant in a radio interview lamented.

To recall, a donor’s forum was also held in Guimaras where IOPC, national and top regional government officials came and converged with key players from the international community to come up with a more efficient set-up to handle the donations. Plans were also drawn to guide the province on projects and programs best suited for the faster rehabilitation of Guimaras and the upliftment and re-empowerment of the locals especially those heavily hit by the oil spill.

Nava in a recent candidates’ forum in one broadcast network assured that all donations are duly listed and accounted as he tried to make a rundown of the assistance.

Nava also admitted that there were indeed donations made in his name but he had it transferred to the care of the provincial government.

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