Mayor hits lack of govt aid on diesel spill


CAVITE: Mayor Jose Ricafrente of Rosario town in Cavite decried the national and provincial governments’ failure to render aid to the beleaguered municipality whose 11 barangays were severely affected by the recent diesel spill on portions of the Manila Bay.

“We don’t beg, we do our own shares, we don’t rely on others in spite of the problem [caused]to our peoples livelihood. We depend on our own people’s initiatives, supporting each other . . . we can survive” Mayor Ricafrente told The Manila Times in an interview.

Ricafrente, chief official of the town where the depot owned by Petron Corp. is located, earlier said that the spill jeopardized the livelihood of 40,000 people who depend on the municipality’s vital fishing industry.

“I declared the state of calamity, [releasing]calamity [funds]and 100 cavans of rice and canned goods were distributed to the victims of oil slick,” the mayor reported.

Out of the 20 barangays of the town, 11 were affected. Most residents in these barangays are fisher folk living near the shore or extension of the Manila Bay.

The diesel spill last week is the second time that Rosario town contended with such calamity—the first was recorded in 2010 when Petron’s oil depot leaked after its submarine pipelines were damaged during Typhoon Basyang.

A first class municipality, Rosario has a land area of only 569 hectares. Fishing is a major economic activity since the town has abundant fishing grounds particularly in Barangays Wawa, Sapa Muzon and Ligtong.

Predominant cottage industries related to fishing include the processing of smoked fish, fish drying, fish paste and fish sauce.

Meanwhile, environmental advocates of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) remembered the Seventh anniversary of the Guimaras oil spill on Sunday amid the recent diesel spill.

“Exactly seven years after the worst maritime oil disaster in the Philippines caused by Petron in the province of Guimaras, the same oil giant has caused a repeat performance in Manila Bay with yet another oil spill affecting several towns in Cavite province. It’s the same story over again: fish and shellfish kills, affected coral reefs, and immediate impacts on the health and livelihood of coastal communities,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

In 2006, Petron spilled 500,000 liters of bunker fuel from its contracted oil tanker MT Solar 1 in the southern coast of Guimaras, affecting marine sanctuaries and mangrove expanses in three out of five municipalities of the province and even reaching the shores of Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

“Petron is claiming the situation in Cavite is under control, but coral reefs have reportedly been smothered by oil sludge, and reported fish and shellfish kills means the oil slick has also affected the functions of marine species,” Bautista pointed out.

Kalikasan PNE threw its support to calls for an independent investigation of the disaster, immediate compensation of affected communities, rehabilitation of the polluted environment, and the closure of the Petron oil depot in Rosario Town, Cavite to prevent future oil disasters in the area.


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