Oil spill victims demand P405M in compensation
Montesa Griño Caoyonan (The Freeman) - August 13, 2014 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY , Philippines   — Eight years after the country's worst oil spill disaster in the island of Guimaras and the P405 million in compensation for the more than 1,000 affected fishermen and 97 employees of Nueva Valencia town here has yet to be given.

This prompted Nueva Valencia Mayor Emmnuel Galila to write President Benigno Aquino III, informing that the previous administration "failed miserably to obtain the huge compensation the country is entitled to be paid from the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund of 1992, of which the Philippines is a member.

Galila requested the president to instruct the DENR, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and other agencies to provide full and unconditional support and assistance in terms of evidence to be used in expediting the prosecution of the cases for compensation claims.

The mayor also asked that Malacañang should adopt regulations defining clearly what the government should do when an oil spill occurs and create a task force with enough resources, technical knowhow and special equipment to deal with oil spill incidents.

"The degree of mismanagement of this tragedy is incredible," said Galila, citing the amounts of P5,000 to P10,000 the IOPC paid to about 10,000 fishermen in Guimaras.

"They accepted the meager amount out of desperation," but this was never enough to cover a month's supply of rice and fish for their families, or compensate the loss of their livelihood, said the mayor during last Monday's commemoration of the oil spill tragedy.

The oil spill took place on August 11, 2006 when M/T Solar 1, owned by Sunshine Maritime and Development Corporation, sank off Nueva Valencia of Guimaras, while about to deliver 2,000 metric tons of industrial fuel to the National Power Corporation in Zamboanga City from the Bataan Refinery Plant.

Galila said the sinking of MT Solar 1 is now nearly forgotten. "What keeps it from being completely wiped out from our memory is the 1,000 brave fishermen and government employees in Guimaras who filed suit against the IOPC, Petron and SMDC, proceedings of which are painfully inching forward."

Galila further said he is still waiting for the president's response within this month, while Elena Gemma Peñaflorida, president of Kalikasan Ingatan, Dagat Linisin, Abuso Tigilan sa Guimaras, or KIDLAT, said her group was happy to know that Malacañang has been informed of the unresolved complaint or petition for compensation of P450 million, including reimbursement for pollution damage and the cost of cleanup and relief works.

The two civil cases filed by KIDLAT at the Regional Trial Court in Guimaras against SMDC, Petron and IOPC for violation of the Maritime Pollution Law (Presidential Decree 979) and the Clean Water Law (Republic Act 9275, are now still at their pretrial stage.  (FREEMAN)

 

ABUSO TIGILAN BATAAN REFINERY PLANT BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES CLEAN WATER LAW DAGAT LINISIN ELENA GEMMA PE GALILA GUIMARAS INTERNATIONAL OIL POLLUTION COMPENSATION FUND KALIKASAN INGATAN
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