Tuesday, November 27, 2007



you may use this manifesto to gather support for our campaign against the destructive off-shore mining operation of Japan Petroleum Exploration Inc. in Tanon Strait.

Thank you.


WE are stakeholders conscious of our great responsibility to protect and conserve our natural resources, as stewards of the present and future generations, amidst the daunting challenge of climate change which threaten the survival of humankind and non-humans in this planet.

WE vehemently oppose the ecologically destructive and high carbon emitting oil drilling now conducted at the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape by JAPEX and the Department of Energy (the “Project”). It has no place in a protected seascape and in an era where countries all over the world are desperately looking for renewable sources of energy to reduce the effects of global warming.

WE condemn the process by which the otherwise dormant Tanon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board suddenly sprung into action and gave its authorization to the Project, without studying the actual state of Tanon Strait and the scientific evidence gathered by respected authorities on biodiversity. The entire process was undertaken bereft of transparency and cloaked with secrecy, lacked public participation and deprived the key stakeholders - such as the marginal fisherfolks, the people’s organizations and non-government organizations and even the scientists and the experts - of their constitutionally guaranteed right to be involved at all levels of decision-making process, especially in an environmentally critical area like Tanon Strait.

We fully support the stand of the 170 marine scientists in the country who called for the cancellation of the Project, since it destroys the marine ecosystem, deprives the marginal fisherfolks of their livelihood and threatens food security, Tanon Strait being one of the richest fishing grounds of the country.

This JAPEX Project is a blatant disregard of the provisions of the Constitution and its implementing laws such as the Fisheries Code which reiterates the state policy that fisherfolks have the preferential use of municipal waters. It mocks the integrity of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (for which funds and grants have poured in from multilateral institutions and foreign countries), and reveals our political leaders’ lack of commitment and sense of responsibility before the international community as a Contracting State in international conventions such as the Conventions on Climate Change, Biological Diversity, Agenda 21, Millennium Development Summit, and respect for international law principles.

WE should never forget that the State, under the 1987 Constitution, guaranteed the protection of “the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities, to the preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore.” Now, ironically, the poor fisherfolks are suddenly displaced from their State-protected fishing grounds by the government agencies who are supposed to protect them and the environment!

Even our Medium Term Development Plan acknowledges that our coastal and marine ecosystem are highly degraded and we are considered a hotspot country in biodersity loss. An oil drilling at Tanon Strait Protected Seascape would only prove that we do not learn the lessons from our mistakes.

This nation is done with EMPTY RHETORICS and the whims and caprices of a few who might have been denied the benefit of wise counsel in understanding that the State-declared policies and principles and our laws are supreme, irrespective of who the holders of the public position might be.

Food security, biodiversity, resource conservation, a healthful and balanced ecology and human rights are not and will never be negotiable.



Sign the petition


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Resolution of Philippine Association of Marine Science to stop oil exploration in the visayas

This Resolution is signed by over 150 Marine Scientist in the Philippines



WHEREAS, Tañon Strait was declared as a Protected Seascape by Presidential
Proclamation 1234 by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1998 in due recognition of the
extraordinary abundance and diverse assemblage of cetaceans (dolphins and whales), 11
out of the 25 species found in the Philippines can be sighted in the area, and its known
importance as feeding, breeding, and resting grounds for these marine mammals;

WHEREAS, uniqueness of associated habitats in TSPS, such as coral reefs, mangrove
and seagrass communities among others, provide livelihood, support food security; and
sustain and safeguard the integrity of the traditional interaction of people and nature, for
which protected seascapes have been established;

WHEREAS, the impacts of activities such as seismic surveys, exploratory drilling, and
actual oil mining operation would negatively impact the marine ecosystem and organisms
dependent on it; sound is very important to whales and dolphins as they use it for
hunting, navigation and communication, and in general, these animals maybe sensitive to
certain sound levels; coincidentally, a study being conducted by Aragones et al. in the
area showed immediate negative effects on the surface behaviors and delayed (1 year
after) negative response on the relative abundance of spinner dolphins implicating short
and intermediate term changes on these animals possibly brought about by the seismic
surveys (using gun arrays) conducted in the summer of 2005;

WHEREAS, the process used to evaluate the potential impact of seismic surveys and
exploratory oil drilling had procedural lapses, lacked transparency and appropriate
consultation with stakeholders, and failed to seriously and adequately consider substantial
scientific evidence on the potential detrimental impacts of such activities to marine
animals like mammals and fish.


RESOLVED, that further seismic surveys and exploratory drilling be immediately
stopped in due recognition of the protected status of Tañon Strait and its national, global
and ecological importance;

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the impacts of such activities be recognized for the threats
they pose to marine animals like whales, dolphins and fish, people’s livelihood, and
potentially irreplaceable and invaluable natural heritage;

RESOLVED FURTHERMORE, that an appropriate body undertake the investigations
and review with adequate inputs from the scientific community and affected

RESOLVED FURTHERMORE, that the current system of obtaining Environmental
Compliance Certificate (ECC) in ecologically critical areas (ECA) should be evaluated in
the light of the serious threats posed to important habitats like the Tañon Strait Protected
Seascape for assessing future oil explorations and similar undertakings;

RESOLVED FURTHERMORE, that copy of this resolution is circulated to the

Office of the Environmental Ombudsman of the Philippines
Office of the Senate, Committee on Environment (Senator Pia Cayetano)
Office of the Senate, Committee on Economics (Senator Loren Legarda)
Office of the House of Representatives, Committee on Environment
Office of the House of Representatives, Committee on Economics
Office of the House of Representatives, Committee on Energy
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Cebu and Negros Oriental Provincial Chapters
Office of the Senate Committee on Women and Children’s Affairs (Senator
Jamby Madrigal)
Senator Miguel Zubiri
All concerned local, provincial and regional government units
Office of the Team Leader of the Visayan Sea Squadron (Atty Antonio Oposa)
All media outfits

AND IT IS FINALLY RESOLVED, to conduct simultaneous and intensive
investigations on the above matter from all concerned agencies.

WE, members of the Philippine Association of Marine Science (PAMS) and fellow
marine scientists and practitioners, whose signatures appear below, strongly support this

Signed this 26th day of October 2007 at Punta Villa Resort, Iloilo City.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Negros Fact-Finding Report on Oil-exploration of Japex




Various progressive organizations hold a fact-finding mission on several coastal communities of Guihulngan City and Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental and San Carlos City and Calatrava in Negros Occidental.

The FFM was prompted by the start of the exploration drilling to an area in the waters off the western coast of Cebu on November 10, 2007.

The exploration drilling was granted by the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR amid the oppositions of local fisherfolks organizations PAMANA-SUGBO and PAMALAKAYA-Negros and the questions raised by environmentalist groups.

The FFM aims to document the alleged fish kills, reduction of fish catches and destructions of the “payao” during the exploration since 2005.

The FFM result will also be used in the current campaigns initiated by PAMALAKAYA and DEFEND PATRIMONY Negros to stop the oil and gas exploration in Tañon Strait.


The team is composed of 12 members from different people’s organization. The team includes the PAMALAKAYA-Negros, PAMALAKAYA-North Negros District, PAMALAKAYA-Vallehermoso, BAYAN, GABRIELA, Aglipayan Forum, and Timbang Satellite Environmental Volunteers Organizations of Cadiz City.

The team visited 8 coastal communities from Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental northward to Calatrava, Negros Occidental. These are So. Cotcot of Barangay San Isidro, Calatrava; So. Sumulog and So. Lawis of Brgy. Buluangan, San Carlos City; So. Look Uno, Brgy. Poblacion and So. Baybay of Brgy. Pu-an, Vallerhermoso, Negros Oriental; So. Lamacan of Brgy. Malusay, So. Pier of Brgy. Bulado and So. Bocana, of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The team also visited local public officials for an interview. The team made courtesy visit to Mayor Perla Fernandez of Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental and Vice-Mayor Cesar Macaluja of Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

Two methods were used by the Team, the Focus Group Discussions and Key Informant Interview. In FGD, A group of fisherfolks sat and shared with the FFM team to discuss the issue facilitated by the team leader. In Key Informant Interview, the team interviewed one person, who may have deeper knowledge of the issues.

The Team interviewed 15 key informants from the visited area, most of whom are municipal fisherfolks.


The Tañon strait separates Cebu and Negros. Its peripheral provinces are Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The Strait has a total coastline of 452.7 km. and a total area of 3,108.00 square kilometers. It is relatively deep with the deepest at 509 meters. Its coast is sharply sloping and fringe with reefs.

Tañon Strait is bounded with 36 coastal municipalities and cities of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Small islands and islets can be found at the central part and northern boundary of the Strait.

Patches of mangroves aggregates are found in the southern coast at both sides of Negros Oriental and Cebu. There are 188.3 sq. km. of coral reef within the strait, composed mostly fringing reef along the Negros and Cebu coastlines.

The Strait is a distinct habitat of the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius, local name taklong) and a migration route of Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). It is home to at least nine species of cetaceans, the most interesting of which are the Dwarf sperm whales (Kogia simus) and Melonheaded whale (Peponocepala electra). Thus, the strait is one of the priority areas for conservation of cetaceans and reef fishes.

The rich marine resource of Tañon Strait is the basis for the Presidential Proclamation 1234 by President Ramos on May 1998.

Tañon Strait is one of the major fishing grounds of Central Visayas and is identified as major source of squids. Based on the survey of the BFAR and the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP), there are about 26,850 fishers operating in the area and more than 12,000 motorized and non-motorized boats.

Tañon Strait is particularly the fishing grounds of Eastern Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental and Western Cebu. Study shows that Tañon Strait have the highest number of gillnets (kurantay (drift gillnets) Palabay (bottom gillnets), patuloy (surface-set gillnets), hooks and lines (pamasol) and squid jigs among the major fishing grounds of Central Visayas. Beach seine (sahid / baling) is also concentrated in Tañon Strait, although declared illegal is tolerated.


In a desperate effort to achieve energy independence within 6 years under the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (2004-2010), the government has been awarding service contracts to various foreign oil and gas exploration company around the country. To date, there are 28 Service Contract, 1 GSEC and 9 Petroleum Energy Contracting Rounds (PERC).

In December 21, 2004 the Philippine Government awarded to JAPEX-Philippines, Inc. the Service Contract 46. The Service Contract 46 covers 2,850 square kilometers offshore of Tañon Strait covering 13 barangays in Pinamunghan and Aloguinsan towns in Cebu; 14 towns and cities in Negros Oriental and 4 towns in Negros Occidental.

JAPEX-Philippines is a 100-percent subsidiary of Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd., a leading Japanese upstream company engage in oil and natural gas exploration and production (E & P) activities both in Japan and overseas. JAPEX employs some 1,470 employees worldwide.

In May 2005, JAPEX holds a 751-kilometer multi-channel sub-bottom profiling survey using the M/S Veritas Searcher and two chase boats. It carries a 3.5 kilometer cable

Seismic surveys are used to determine the structure of underground rock formations by firing explosive charges in the ground. The intense sounds produced reflect back to a receiver to provide information about oil and gas deposits that may lie beneath the seabed.

According to local fisherfolks, the survey operates on a 24-hour basis. They could hear sounds of blasting at an interval of 5-20 seconds much like that of a thunder and as if the ship furrowing the undersea.

According to Energy Undersecretary Guillermo Balce, Tañon Strait is expected to produce 1 Billion barrels of oil. Out of this potential reserve, about 100 million barrels of oil can be recovered.

Starting November 10 this year, Japex plans to drill a hole 3,150 meters-deep in an area some 3 km west of Pinamungajan town in western Cebu. JAPEX will use the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), known as Hakoryu V.

If they believe that there is gas, they will set a 7" liner (steel pipe) to test the well but if gas and oil is negative, they plug the well with cement and abandon it. Another well within the contracted area will be drilled until they are certain of their data and information.



The team confirmed the fish catch reduction after the Seismic Survey of the R/V Veritas Searcher in May 2005. The fish catch reductions continue up to this day in all areas visited by the team. The average fish catch were drastically reduced by 50-70 percent from pre-oil exploration catch of 10-15 kilos average catch per day to 2-3 kilos of fish per day.

A local fish called “baga” (bucaobucao) almost vanished in the fishing grounds off the waters of Guihulngan City after the seismic survey. Before the seismic survey, fisherfolks could produce 15-20 kilos but thereafter, they could only catch an average of 1-2 kilos.

Fisherfolks attributed the drastic reduction of the fish catch to the destruction of the “payao” or the fish aggregating device” (also called as artificial reef). The team recorded a total of 136 payao destroyed during the 2-weeks seismic survey.

According to Rene Bulado, the chairperson of the Malusay Fish Loving People, a local fisherfolks associations and serving as a leader of the Guihulngan’s City Fisherfolks Associations Management Council (C-FARMC) said that one of the three boats of the JAPEX is the one destroying the “payao” of the fisherfolks. The bewildered fisherfolks were only handed with a one-page notice right in the middle of the sea.

A payao is an artificial reef made of Styrofoam materials deployed in strategic areas. The use of payao by the local fisherfolks contributes to high fish catch. Gango o Payao is the local name for artificial corral reef and indigenuous fishing technology defined as “man-made” structures set up in marine environment to serve as shelter, source of food, and breeding ground for different fish and other organisms in the absence of the natural habitat.

Its destruction therefore has affected the fish catch of the community. Some of the payao owners were paid but some were not. In Guihulngan and in Calatrava, JAPEX paid the fisherfolks P5, 000 per payao through the intercession of the Department of Agriculture. In some areas, payao owners were paid P 4,000.00. With the exception of Calatrava, most of the areas visited by the team have not replaced the payao.

It must be pointed out that while the project proponent paid the payao owners, the most numerous yet the most affected by the seismic survey have not received compensation for almost a week of being prohibited from fishing, the marginal fisherfolks. Most fisherfolks did not dare to fish near the survey vessel for fear of being rammed or hit.


Two local fisherman interviewed by the team confirmed the fish kills during the seismic survey. Of the 15 informants, three have confirmed the fish kills in their respective fishing grounds.

Marcelo Descaliar, a fisherman of Sitio Sumulog, Brgy. Buluangan, San Carlos City says that a day after the M/S Veritas Searcher zigzag the waters off their communities, at about 1 kilometer from the shoreline, the beach seine catches dead coral fishes. Fisherfolks from Guihulngan also told the team that marginal fishers have seen dead tuna on the waters.

Scientific studies have shown that “seismic blasting damages planktonic eggs and larvae found in the immediate vicinity of airguns and can reduces catches in commercial fisheries” (Dalen and Knutsen, 1985). Seismic blasting can cause behavioral modifications and reduce or eliminate available habitat for breeding / spawning, foraging and migration.

In Guihulngan, fisherfolks says that “baga” (bucaobucao in Ilonggo) almost vanished. Before the survey, Guihulngan is known as the sources of the “baga” in the province but now its almost gone.


All respondents interviewed by the team express that they have no knowledge or information of the seismic survey and the exploration drilling at Tañon Strait.

One of the fishers even though that it is an illegal fishing vessels and even call for police to apprehend but bewildered to see the escort Coast Guard. Others though that the vessel is cleaning the seabed. Only a few knows that it is a seismic survey.

All of the local public officials interviewed by the team express disappointment on the apparent lack of information drive and subsequently of the exploration drilling. They said that the national government and national government agencies should have informed and consulted them.

Since the awarding of the Service Contract in 2004, the Department of Energy and the JAPEX visits the local government only this July till October 2007. Their so-called “information drives” were attended by a few people.

Amid the dangers that the seismic survey poised to the marine environment, JAPEX never informed the concern stakeholders in the Tañon Strait, there were no consultations or even information drives before the survey were conducted.

During Seismic survey, one of the chase boats handed down one-page flyers to fishers at the sea. The said flyers are informing the fishers to stay away from the survey vessel. There are coastal communities that were never informed of the seismic survey.

The lack of consultations with all stakeholders is apparent in the absence of participations of the fisherfolks and other concerned organizations in the process to secure the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). It is not simply a matter of haste in approval of the ECC but the substance of the process itself.

While the projects involved cities / municipalities of three (3) provinces, there was no public hearing or consultations conducted in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental but in their own words “visits”.

It is worth reiterating that when we mean “environmental impacts’ it is “probable effects or consequence of proposed projects or undertakings on the physical, biological and socio-economic environment that can be direct or indirect, cumulative positive or negative”.

This might have prompted Dr. Angel Alcala of the Silliman University and a noted marine biologist to say, “IEE document wanting in the critical survey data and information needed for determining the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed operation of JAPEX”.

It is only recently that the JAPEX and the Department of Energy conducts “information drives” on each of the cities and municipalities within the coverage area of their Service Contract 46. Yet, these so-called “information drives” were miserably attended by a few people, mostly local government and national line agencies employees or selected fisherfolks leaders.

Yet, the process in acquiring the ECC were called as a sham, not only because they were lacking in consultations but also with the apparent denials by government agencies of all grounds posed by fisherfolks and environmental groups against the project.


Monday, November 12, 2007

SENATE RESOLUTION 141 - Senate to look into the effects of off-shore mining in the visayas

FOURTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE } _*: ~,I,. ..' ;::>z(j 1 ifI^

First Regular Session 1


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P. Senate Resolution No.14 1

Introduced by Senator M. A. Madrigal


WHEREAS the 2004-2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan envisions an

energy-independent Philippines;

WHEREAS pursuant thereto, the Philippine government has been awarding service contracts to various foreign companies for oil and gas explorations around the country;

WHEREAS most if not ail of these oil and gas explorations are being undertaken in the protected seascapes of the country that are rich in marine resources and biodiversity;

WHEREAS these areas are already in need of urgent rehabilitation and stricter protection due to unabated exploitation and abuse and other forms of environmental destruction;

WHEREAS the Philippine government has reportedly entered into a seven-year contract to undertake oil and gas explorations in the country with Forum Exploration Inc. of Canada and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd;

WHEREAS the Philippine government has also allegedly entered into contract services with other foreign oil and gas companies such as the Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development, Alcorn Gold Resources Corporation, Petro Energy Corporation, Austral Asian Energy Ltd. and Ottoman Energy Ltd.;

WHEREAS two of these service contracts are located in the Cebu-Bohol Strait and the Taiion Strait between Cebu and Negros islands, that are both among the top ten major fishing grounds in the country;

WHEREAS these foreign oil and gas companies are also eyeing the waters off the coasts of Palawan, Antique, Ragay Gulf in Bicol and Mindoro Occidental in Southern Tagalog area;

WHEREAS residents in Cebu and Negros claim that Forum Exploration Inc. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. have already conducted seismic testing in their areas to determine the extent of oil and natural gas deposits, using high-voltage air guns and huge boats with long cables and pipes as well other equipment to dig the seabeds and appraise the geophysical surface;

WHEREAS investigation conducted by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) and the Visayas Fisherfolk Development Corporation in relation to these oil exploration projects resulted in the following findings: 1) the drastic decrease of fish catch in the areas where seismic testing were conducted; 2) the destruction of 120 "gangos" or "payaos" or coral reefs in Toledo City where one of these seismic surveys took place; 3) reports of fish kills in barangays Talavera, Luray 11, Calong Calong, Ibo and Bato in Toledo City; Tajao, Pandacan, Tutay and Cabiongan in Pinamungajan; Cantabogon, Boho, Pobiacion and Bonbon in Alguinsan; and 4) rising cases of skin rashes and other types of skin

diseases among residents, especially children, in affected areas;

WHEREAS there is a need to review these oil and gas exploration contracts and study the effects of the implementation of these to the environment as well as the health and livelihood of residents in the affected areas in order to safeguard the right of the people to health, a balanced and healthful ecology and the national patrimony;

WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, to direct the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, the Committee on Health and Demography and the Committee on Energy to investigate, in aid of legislation, the negative effects to the environment and the health of residents of the areas along or within the Visayas Sea, Central Philippines, Bicol and Southern Tagalog Regions of the oil and gas explorations by foreign corporations with the end view of enacting remedial legislation.