Cebu News

2GO, Span Asia fined P41M for oil spill damage

Marigold Lebumfacil - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 has fined 2GO and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., the owners of the two ships that collided in Lawis Ledge last month, P41.7 million for environmental damage.

This after the oil spill from the M/V St. Thomas of Aquinas, which sank as a result of the collision, ruined an estimated 443 mangrove plantations in 12 barangays in Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City.

DENR already sent demand letters dated last October 1 to PSACC Chairman of the Board Enrique Go and 2GO Group Inc. Chairman of the Board Francis C. Chua to pay and settle the total amount of P41,704,600.00 on or before November 15, 2013.

"We are demanding such amount to the owners as we would like to proceed with providing alternative livelihood options to those people's organizations who have been affected by the incident and carefully draw out reconstruction programs like rehabilitation and reforestation efforts," said DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo in a statement.

In the demand letter signed by Montejo, it indicated that P5,935,000 worth of mangroves planted between 2009 to 2012 in an area covering 328 hectares were destroyed.

These mangroves were planted funded by the DENR's integrated coastal resource management with funding support from the Asian Development Bank, said DENR-7 spokesperson Ed Llamedo.

The rest of the amount, P35,769,600, is the equivalent of fish lost in a year for every hectare of mangroves destroyed.

Llamedo said that the computation was based on the 115 hectares of natural stand or productive mangroves which were also damaged.

"It is noteworthy that a hectare of mangrove produces up to 3.6 tons of litter fall per year per hectare thus providing a lot of food for marine life. Also, in every hectare of mangrove destroyed, some 1.08 tons of fish per year per hectare will be lost," Llamedo explained.

If the two companies ignore the fine, Montejo said they will file charges in court.

Montejo said that a technical conference with the two companies will be scheduled for October 9 at 1 p.m. at the DENR-7 Conference Hall in Barangay Banilad, Mandaue City.

The demand letters were sent yesterday via courier, registered mail, and fax to the two companies.

In a completed inventory or assessment report last August 21 which was conducted by a seven-member quick response team led by Coastal and Marine Management division chief Edmondo Arregadas of the Protected Area, Wildlife and Coastal Zone and Management Services, it was found that 328 hectares of newly planted mangroves contracted by nine peoples' organizations in Cordova town and one PO in Lapu-Lapu City were severely destroyed. Some 115 hectares of natural stand mangroves were also ruined.

The 10 POs under contract with DENR 7's ICRMP whose mangrove plantations were hardest hit by the oil spill are Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Bang-Bang, Catarman Fisherfolks Association, Kamampay Fisherfolk Association, Pilipog Fishermen Association, Alegria Fisherfolks Association, Singgit sa Mananagat sa Barangay San Migel, Panaghugpong sa Day-asanoy Mananagat, and Gilutongan Barangay San Miguel, Panaghugpong sa Day-asanoy Mananagat, and Gilutongan Water Distributor and Resource Management Multi-purpose Cooperative, all in Cordova and Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Calawisan in Lapu-Lapu City.

The team led by Arregadas assessed nine barangays in Cordova severely hit by the oil spill; Bangbang, Buagsong, Day-as, Catarman, Poblacion, Alegria, Gabi, Pilipog and San Miguel. Barangays Calawisan, Babag and Suba-basbas in Lapu-Lapu City were also affected.

The human toll from the disaster currently stands at 116 dead and 22 still missing. —/BRP (FREEMAN)

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