GMA help on speedy release of Guimaras rehab funds sought

August 6, 2007

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
The News Today, Aug. 8, 2007

THE head of the regional task force on the Solar I Oil Spill is requesting President Macapagal-Arroyo to direct the fast-tracking of the release the bulk of rehabilitation funds intended for victims and affected areas of last year’s oil spill in Guimaras.

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela, head of the Task Force Solar I Oil Spill said he has requested the President to issue an administrative order that will streamline the procedure for the release of the bulk of the P863-million fund which has been delayed because of bureaucratic procedures.

Coscolluela said most of the rehabilitation and livelihood programs and projects have not been implemented nearly a year after the oil spill because of the delay in the release of funds.

Congress last year allocated the fund to finance the containment operations of the country’s worst environmental disaster and to rehabilitate communities and the environment affected by the oil spill.

But only around P200 million has been released by the Department of Budget and Management.

These include releases to the Department of Agriculture (P11.5 million for livelihood), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P1 million), Department of Social Welfare and Development (P5 million for livelihood) University of the Philippines in the Visayas (P60 million for rapid assessment and other researches), and local government units of Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental (P60 million).

Among those that have not been release are funds for the Department of Foreign Affairs Marine and Ocean Affairs Center (P5 million), Department of Science and Technology (P26 million), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (P65 million) and Department of Health (P22 million for disease surveillance).

Coscolluela said most of the proposals were already endorsed by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to Office of the President or the DBM for release of funds.

He said the President wants to shorten the procedure and has even suggested that she delegates her authority to approve the release of the funds to the NDCC or Task Force Guimaras.

Coscolluela said there is an urgency to require the release of the funds to the various government agencies before the end of the year because otherwise the funds will be reverted to the national treasury.

The oil spill affected 5,437 families or 26,740 individuals in Guimaras alone after the M/T Solar 1 sank in stormy seas off Guimaras on August 11, 2006 and dumped more than 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel oil it was transporting for Petron Corp. from Bataan to Zamboanga.

It also contaminated fishing grounds and devastated the island’s rich marine life and tourism sites.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: