Cebu, Bohol Fishers Protest vs Oil Exploration
the government claims that gas and oil exploration activities will reduce
the country’s heavy dependence on imported oil, fisherfolk organizations
fear these will kill marine life and destroy their livelihood.
By Gerry Albert Corpuz
City―Leaders and members of local
fisher folk groups in Cebu and Bohol provinces, in the Visayas Islands
south of Luzon, are protesting oil exploration activities at Cebu Strait.
The seismic survey covering 250 kms. are being done by virtue of a
petroleum service contract covering parts of the East
Visayan Basin awarded by the
Department of Energy (DoE), July 18, 2005, to a consortium composed of
Alcorn Gold Resources Corp., Petro Energy Resources Corp. and Trans-Asia
Oil and Energy Development Corp.
The oil exploration
was granted a Certificate of Non-Coverage by the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources Region IV (DENR) last March 18, 2005.
Energy Ltd. has joined the consortium and it will provide barges and ships
that would accompany the personnel and workforce that would undertake the
seismic tests in Cebu
Strait and Northern Leyte.
Local fisher folk
groups say that the Cebu Strait, which covers 204,000 hectares of marine
waters and coral reefs, is home to more than 39 fish and marine species.
It is a communal fishing ground for fisher folks from Cebu and Bohol.
Subsistence fisher folk from at least seven coastal towns in Cebu and five
towns in Bohol depend on the strait. They fear that the oil and gas
exploration will kill marine life in the strait and destroy their
of the fisher folk federation, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya
ng Pilipinas or Pamalakaya (National Movement of Fisher folks in the
Philippines) in Bohol namely, the Bol-anong Kahugpongan sa mga Kabus nga
Nanagat (Association of Poor Fisher folk in Bohol ) or Bokkana-Bohol, and
Cebu, the Panaghiusa ng Gagmay'ng Mangingisda sa Sugbo (Unity of Small
Fisher folk in Cebu) or Pamana-Sugbo, have set-up monitoring posts in
Argao municipality in Cebu and Loon town in Bohol.
"We are monitoring the entry of barges and ships that would enter the Cebu
Strait anytime this month. We will confront them once they get into our
territory," says Paula Distor, spokesperson for Bokkana-Bohol, in an
interview with Bulatlat.
"It would not be a
walk-in-the park when they enter the Cebu
Strait. We are
determined to stop and end this corporate plunder by the violators of
national patrimony in Malacañang and the transnational clients of
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," says Pamana-Sugbo chair Victor Lapaz
in a separate interview.
Not just in Cebu
activities will not be limited to the Cebu
Strait. It will be done in two
Based on the map
provided by DoE, Parcel 1 in the East Visayan basin covers marine waters
around six coastal towns of Northern Leyte province ( Isabel, Palompon,
Villava, Tabango, San Isidro and Naval Island) and eight coastal
towns of Cebu (Tabagon, Bogo, Borbon, Catmon, Sogod, Malapascua, Bantayan
Island and Camotes Island). Parcel 1 covers waters separating Cebu and
Parcel 2 covers the
Cebu Strait along the seven coastal towns of Cebu namely Argao, Carcar,
Sibogon, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon and Oslob and five coastal towns of
Bohol namely Calape, Loon, Maribojoc, Tagbilaran and Panglao island.
Parcel 2 of the oil and exploration activity will cover 204,000 hectares
of marine waters in Cebu Strait separating Cebu and Bohol.
On the occasion of
World Food Day and Peasant Week, last October 21, leaders of Pamana-Sugbo
and the Cebu chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (National
Movement of Peasants in the Philippines) or KMP initiated a dialogue with
officials of DENR Region IV and DoE Region IV headed by directors Julian
D. Amador and Antonio Labios. The dialogue held in Cebu City discussed
the destruction of Tañon Strait and the proposed seismic explorations in
The regional directors of DENR and DoE in Region IV said that they cannot
stop the oil and
gas exploration activities as these were national projects approved by the
Office of the President.
Pamana-Sugbo and Bokkana-Bohol enumerated 39 fish species that would be
affected by seismic tests for the oil and gas exploration project in Cebu
Strait. These are anchovies (dilis), emperor breams, flying fish,
fusiliers or banana fish, garfish, needle fish, goat fish, groupers, sea
basses, halfbeaks, jacks, crevalles, travelles, darts, mojarras, silver
biddies, mullets, rabbit fish, spine feet, sardines, herrings, sprats,
gizzard shads, scads, slip mouths, pony fish, snappers, sea perches,
squirrel fish, soldier fish, surgeon fish, tangs, unicorn fish, threadfin,
breams, spine cheeks, tunas, mackerels, and wrasses.
Leaders of Pamana-Sugbo and Bokkana-Bohol said they are collecting
signatures for a petition against the oil exploration. They said the
petition signing will be conducted in 25 fishing towns affected by the
massive oil and gas search in Cebu, Bohol and Northern Leyte provinces.
On February 24, Pamana-Sugbo will spearhead a fluvial parade in Cebu City
and Toledo City. Flotilla protests bearing placards and streamers with
junk oil and gas exploration calls and slogans will also sail to dramatize
the sector's opposition to the multi-billion peso seismic tests.
For its part,
Bokkana-Bohol will undertake both fluvial and flotilla protests in
Tagbilaran City and Loon municipality in Bohol.
Both groups will join the Pamalakaya chapter in Negros, Lambat-Masbate
(Net-Masbate), the local fisherfolk chapter in Masbate Island, and the
Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Movement of Small
Fisherfolk in Bicol) in filing criminal and administrative charges against
President Arroyo and former DENR Secretary Michael Defensor. The charges
will be filed before
the Office of the Ombudsman on the second week of February over the issue
of oil and gas exploration activities in Tañon and South Cebu Straits, the
Lafayette twin mine spills, the distribution of 4,968 environmental
compliance certificates in 2005 and the approval of DENR Administrative
Order 24 opening up all coastal areas for investment. Bulatlat
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