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Fishpond operators, seaweed growers still await compensation

January 10, 2008

By Erly C. Garcia
The News Today
Jan. 8, 2008

The provincial government of Guimaras is not giving up on its move to ask the London-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) to pay the compensation claims of fishpond operators and seaweed growers in the province.

Rep. JC Rahman Nava, in an interview last week, said they are exhausting all the legal remedies to also include fishpond operators and seaweed growers in the oil spill compensation.

Last year, IOPCF rejected 6,090 claims from seaweed farmers and only accepted 299 applications. The Fund said that when they investigated the claims, “it became apparent that a large number of these claimants were not involved in seaweed farming at the time of the incident.”

IOPCF also rejected the claims of the nearly 126,000 residents of Guimaras because of some irregularities.

When asked if the rejected claimants still have the chance to receive compensation, Nava said it is up to the IOPCF.

The congressman said they left with the IOPCF the validation of applicants for compensation claims.

He said the IOPCF have set their own criteria which is based on international standards.

To note, out of the 125,614 second batch claimants from Guimaras, only 134 were accepted and were offered compensation totaling P1.4 million.

The Fund also accepted only 8,434 claims out of the 15,850 second batch claimants from municipalities in Iloilo.

The claims were rejected because they were incomplete and a significant number were from people under the age of 18 years, which is the minimum age at which people are allowed to engage in fishing in the country.

The IOPCF had earlier also raised concern over the number of claimants in Guimaras saying it was improbable that the oil spill had affected 80 percent of the island’s population of around 154,000.

The IOPCF has paid a total of P906,669,648 in compensation for economic losses and refund for expenses in the clean-up and preventive measures in relation to the Aug. 11. 2006 sinking of the M/T Solar I off the coasts of Guimaras.

The sinking triggered a massive oil spill after the tankers’s cargo of 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel were spilled contaminating marine resources and dislocating thousands of residents mostly dependent on fishing for their livelihood.

The Fund had receive claims totaling P2,514,425,538

It paid 22,307 claims amounting to P174,176,143 as compensation for economic losses for Guimaras and Iloilo residents. The Fund also paid P2,186,658 to 57 claimants from the island’s tourism sector. and P2,142,301 to 74 claims in property damages.

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