Green Group, Scientists Assail Arroyo Gov’t for Allowing Entry of ‘Giant Polluter’

Environmental advocates and scientists assailed the Arroyo government for allowing the entry of what they deemed as ‘giant polluter.’


Environmental advocates and scientists assailed the Arroyo government for allowing the entry of what they deemed as ‘giant polluter.’

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said despite the ExxonMobil’s ‘notorious’ environmental record, it was given permission to exploit vast tracts of the Philippine territory for its own end.

Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE said that in 1991, the ExxonMobil pleaded guilty to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, one of the worst oil spills in history. The lives of thousands of Native Americans and habitats of different species of animals, spanning 700 miles of Alaska shoreline, were adversely affected by the spillage of approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil. On May 23, 2007, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its previous ruling that Exxon owes $2.5 billion in punitive damages.

ExxonMobil, in partnership with Malaysian exploration firm Mitra Energy Ltd., was awarded service contract 56 (SC 56) to explore the deepwater portion of the Sandakan Basin, southwest of the Philippines, covering a total area of 8,500 hectares in the Sulu Sea. Investments of the said foreign firms are estimated at $75 million to $100 million.

The Sulu Sea Basin is one of the areas that the Arroyo government opened for oil and gas exploration. The said basin is about 115,000 square kilometers with an estimated total of 203 million barrels of oil. Aside from SC 56, six other exploration wells are expected to be drilled by various oil and gas exploration firms this year.

Bautista said, “The exploration activities of ExxonMobil and of other foreign companies will most likely damage the fragile marine ecosystem in the Sandakan Basin. This includes Tubbatha Reef. Millions of fisher folks who depend on Sulu Sea for their food and livelihood will also be affected.”

Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of AGHAM (Advocates for Science and Technology for the People) said that the current energy framework of the Arroyo government ‘allows foreign companies to own and control the country’s resources for their own profit and interest.’

Based on government data, recent oil field discoveries that are now in commercial production such as Malampaya gas field and Galoc oil are majority owned by foreign companies, namely British Royal Dutch Shell, European Vitol and Australian Otto Energy.

Also, foreign corporations acquire most of the oil and gas exploration permits given by the Department of Energy (DOE).

“With our reliance on imported oil and the threat of climate change amidst us, there is a great need for a genuine energy policy that seeks to address the concerns of the Filipinos. Yet, the policies of Arroyo government of privatizing our energy resources run counter to the interest of our people. It is basically a sell-out of our national patrimony,” Tapang said.(

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