In response, Antonio E. Labios, regional director of the Department of Energy (DoE) Visayas Field Office, said that the claims of the fisherfolks regarding the reduction in fish catch is yet to be validated and substantiated by scientific studies.
Cinches said that Cebuanos should not wait for scientific studies to be made for this claim to be substantiated as the experience of the fisherfolks is enough evidence to prove the ill-effects of the survey.
Labios said that 12 of the 14 barangays of Argao have passed resolutions endorsing the project and that meetings with the mayors of Argao and Sibonga, as well as that of the governor have shown that they are supportive with the project. “We just have to address the issues of the fisherfolks,” he said.
However, the four-day IFFM further discovered that the communities as well as local government officials were not consulted by the mining companies before entering the seas, in violation of several Philippine laws. It was also disturbed by reports that some local government officials are involved in unethical relations with the mining companies and that the military has been deployed in certain areas to intimidate and quell the growing citizens’ movement against off-shore mining.
Labios further claimed that based on their consultation with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) is not required for NorAsian to conduct the survey as said document is only needed once production is started.
Regardless, NorAsian and JAPEX did their best to comply with environmental guidelines, which includes consultation with various stakeholders, claimed Labios.
Labios said that they would soon be signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Municipalities of Argao and Sibonga so as to lift the recent cease and desist order imposed by the provincial government of Cebu as per Executive Order No. 09 signed by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Labios said that the purpose of the seismic survey is to minimize if not eliminate the environmental impact once the oil drilling is started.
“The DoE and the service contractor do not shy away in addressing the concern of the fisherfolk,” Labios said.
“It is disturbing to know that the Philippine government is hell-bent on pursuing these so-called energy development projects despite the overwhelming opposition of citizens, especially the poor fisherfolk who are the most affected. We have seen in Asia and many parts of the globe that at the end of the day, these would only benefit the companies and corrupt government officials. History shows that oil doesn’t translate to wealth of the people,” said Sape of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS). (Bulatlat.com)