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IOPCF junks 125,480 oil spill claims

July 23, 2007

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today, July 23, 2007

THE International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPFF) has initially approved 134 applications, out of the 125,614 second batch of claimants for compensation due to the oil spill which occurred last August 11 in the waters off the island-province of Guimaras.

This was revealed by Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela in an interview last week. Coscolluela, however, said the 134 applications would still be processed for final screening by the IOPCF.

Coscolluela, chair of the Task Force SOS, said the remaining 125,480 claims were disapproved by the Fund for lack of substantial proof that the applicants were directly affected by the oil spill.

The release of the compensation to the oil spill victims in Guimaras was met with controversy after it was found out that some of the relatives of former congressman Edgar Espinosa were listed as recipients even if they were not qualified.

Coscolluela said practically all the applicants managed to get the endorsement of either the congressman or the governor.

Coscolluela observed that more people filed the claims in the second batch after learning that their neighbors received from P2,000 to as high as P30,000 in compensaton.

Task Force reported that IOPCF has paid out around P177 million in settlement of claims to over 22,000 affected fisherfolk in Guimaras.

The report was attested to by retired Gen. Glen Rabonza of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and Marilou Ernie of Petron.

Task Force SOS, in a report in June, declared that “(i)n less than a year, life in Guimaras has been restored.”

In the same report, the task force said the government is pursuing programs to strengthen oil-spill response capability, by working on an updated and comprehensive National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, upgrading the Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Police equipment as well as the NDCC Operations Center, and capacity-building through localized emergency response preparedness training.

Further, the task force said the scientific community, led by UP Visayas, has also been working to develop a science-based approach to oil-spill impact assessment and environmental rehabilitation. Their work will contribute valuable inputs for current and future responses.

The operations to recover oil from Solar 1 were completed without spilling any oil on either land or sea. Likewise, all recovered oily debris were shipped out for reprocessing/reuse outside of Guimaras. (PR na PR ang dating!)

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