“Not a single centavo of taxpayers money should be spent for the clean up. Petron and its accomplice in the crime – the owners and operators of MV Makisig – should pay the cost of the cleanup and prepare for compensation claims to be asked by affected fishermen and residents.”
By GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
MANILA — The activist alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday pressed Petron Corporation to fast track the cleanup of the oil slick and shoulder the expenses to be incurred from removing the oil stain along the 20-kilometer coastal shore.
In the same vein, Pamalakaya urged Malacañang through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to order the closure of the oil depot in Barangay Poblacion, execute a cease and desist order to Petron from continuing its operations, file criminal and other appropriate raps against the oil company and the owner of MV Makisig and compel the petroleum corporation and its hired shipping firm to pay adequate compensation to thousands of fishing families devastated by the oil spill.
“The Cavite oil spill is a ticking time bomb. If not contained in the next two to three days, it will create more damages and will eventually send the coastal areas of the province to Intensive Care Unit. The quick effective and decisive clean up of oil sludge is the prime responsibility of Petron and the present administration that is, unfortunately, used to coddle super profit obsessed and environment disaster maker company like Petron,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.
The Pamalakaya leader added: “Not a single centavo of taxpayers money should be spent for the clean up. Petron and its accomplice in the crime– the owners and operators of MV Makisig should pay the cost of the cleanup and prepare for compensation claims to be asked by affected fishermen and residents. We are talking here of 500,000 liters of oil now killing fish and the livelihood of small fishermen and their dependents and justice must be served to the victims of this environmental catastrophe borne out of corporate fetish for super profits.”
“There’s more. A class suit against Petron and the owners of MV Makisig will be filed by affected fisherfolk and residents with the help of local government officials and a congressional inquiry to the spilling of 500,000 liters of petroleum products will be pushed to ensure that the leader of the oil cartel in the country won’t get away with its dark and devastating crime against the people and the environment. Of course, the current presidency in Malacañang will avoid a clash with Petron, but just the same, the people’s collective wrath and sentiment will push the Aquino administration to act in accordance to public interest,” France warned.
Initial environmental mission
Pamalakaya kicked off an initial environmental mission over the weekend in several barangays affected by the oil spill. The staff of the fisherfolk group was led by its chairperson Fernando Hicap, also the incumbent representative of Anakpawis partylist in the House of Representatives. The fisherfolk group and the Office of Anakpawis partylist Rep. Hicap went to the fishing villages affected by the oil-spill and conducted a consultation with affected fishermen, residents and local barangay officials regarding the impact of oil spill.
“ This is not the first time an oil spill took place due to broken and rotten pipes of Petron and the careless operations of commissioned ships of the oil company in carrying and transporting petroleum products to Petron’s oil depot in Rosario. In July 2010, the same tragedy happened courtesy of the same company. The situation requires the closure of Petron’s oil depot, so be it,” said Pamalakaya.
Initial reports named the barangays affected by the oil spill as Wawa I, II and III, Sapa II and III, Muzon I and II, Kaunlaran and Silanganan I. A report said that the spill also affected the waters off the shore of some barangays in Tanza. Some local officials suspect that the slick might have been caused by a leak from the so-called Petron submarine pipeline or the tanker of M/T Makisig, a vessel owned by a contractor that had just discharged diesel at the Rosario terminal.
Citing the initial estimate made by local fishermen, Pamalakaya said around 10,000 fisherfolk in Rosario and Tanza are affected by the still uncontained oil spill, which the group said could spread to other coastal towns of Cavite like Noveleta, Naic, Cavite City and even Bacoor City.
Pamalakaya said a fisherman in Cavite earns an average of not less than P 250 ($5.80) a day. Since Monday, the fishermen were not able to fish and this denied them a total net income of P 750 ($17.40) for the week or roughly P7.5 million ($174 thousand) representing the aggregate income of 10,000 affected fisherfolk.
Rosario mayor did not impose fish ban
Meanwhile, Rosario Mayor Nonong Ricafrente denied to Anakpawis partylist Rep. Hicap that the local government imposed a three-day fish ban in the municipal waters of Rosario, assuring the partylist lawmaker that the rights of the small fishermen in his town will be respected and upheld. The local top official during a brief dialogue with Rep, Hicap and local officers of Anakpawis and Pamalakaya said he will ask Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez to recall the ban and allow small fishermen to resume fishing within the 15 kilometer municipal fishing water of Rosario.
Ricafrente promised Rep. Hicap that the latter will be provided with the official report of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on the oil spill allegedly involving Petron Corporation and Herma Shipping Company– the operator of MV Makisig commissioned by the oil giant to carry and transfer fuel to its depot in Rosario.
The Rosario town mayor also said the local government will carry out food for work support to affected fishermen and residents. Mayor Ricafrente said buying stations for gathered oil slick were set up in different affected areas. He said for every six letters of oil slick fetched from the oil sludge areas, the local government will hand out three kilos of rice and two cans of sardines.
Set of demands
Meanwhile, 87 leaders and members of local chapters of Pamalakaya and Anakpawis partylist told Rep. Hicap during the consultation that they would push the following set of demands to address the many problems that stemmed from the oil spill incident last week. The following demands include:
* The urgent and unconditional release of certain percentage of Rosario’s calamity fund to help affected residents in 12 coastal villages.
* Lifting of fish ban in Rosario as previously announced by BFAR.
* Petron should speed up the cleaning of their mess, and the should shoulder the cost of clean up.
* The operations of Petron must be stopped and its depot should be shutdown for good.
* Petron should be barred from doing parallel investigation since it is the subject of controversy and object of investigation.
* Class suit against Petron should be filed at the soonest time possible.