Friday, October 24, 2008

NGO: Stop oil, gas search in Argao

Date: Thu, Oct 23, 2008
Subject: NGO: Stop oil, gas search in Argao

NGO: Stop oil, gas search in Argao

By Ma. Bernadette A. Parco
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 08:51:00 10/23/2008

A fact-finding monitoring team composed of non-government organizations (NGO) from Asian countries called on the national government to end oil exploration activities in the Visayas.

In their manifesto, the Mining Network and Oil Watch-Southeast Asia said they denounce the "unconstitutionality of the oil and gas exploration activities" in Central Visayas as experienced by the affected fisherfolks and their families.

Convenor Andry Wijaya said fisherfolks and their families were displaced as a result of the offshore drilling.

"Their children no longer go to school as a result of the reduced fish catch," he said.

The team announced the results of a study co-sponsored by the Pesticide Action Network in Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP) and the Fisherfolks Development Center (Fidec).

He also scored the failure or refusal of the government agencies to enforce the law.

The study done in the Cebu towns of Pinamungajan, Aloguinsan, Argao and Sibonga centered on the effects of offshore mining done by Japex Philippines Inc. on Tañon Strait and NorAsian at the Cebu-Bohol Strait.

Fidec director Vince Cinches said the fisherfolk in Pinamungajan and Aloguinsan towns told the team that their fish catch didn't improve even after Japex left the area.

He said the fishermen only catch one to two kilos of fish per day, a sharp drop from the 15 to 20 kilos caught per day prior to the seismic survey and drilling operations in 2005 and 2007.

Argao fisherfolk also reported a decrease in fish yield due to the oil exploration activities of NorAsian Energy Ltd. at the Cebu-Bohol Strait, Cinches added.

Regional Director Antonio Labios of the Department of Energy in Central Visayas (DOE-7) said the agency is validating the claims of fisherfolk that their livelihood is affected by the NorAsian oil exploration activities.

"Fish catch, according to the fishermen, is also affected by the season. The decrease in fish yield could also be permanent or temporary. We have to find that out," he told reporters yesterday.

"We would get baseline data from the municipal fisheries and the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources)," Labios said.

Labios said the target of the project is Argao town and that the agency already secured approval from 11 out of 14 barangays in the town.

Labios also admitted that there was no public consultation conducted on the NorAsian project.

"Oil exploration is not yet covered by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system, so there is no consultation required (for the activity)," the regional DOE-7 director said.

Vince Aureflor A. Cinches
Executive Director
Mobile: +63 905 2624 123
Telefax: +63 32 2561365
Skype: vince.cinches


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