Monday, March 3, 2008

Loren Legarda's Senate Resolution 278 - DIRECTING THE APPROPRIATE SENATE COMMITTEES TO CONDUCT AN

FOURTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES


First Regular Session

SENATE

PSR No. _278

~ ~

Introduced by Senator Loren Legarda

A RESOLUTION


DIRECTING THE APPROPRIATE SENATE COMMITTEES TO CONDUCT AN

INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, INTO THE ALLEGED ADVERSE EFFECTS

OF THE OIL EXPLORATION AND DRILLING IN THE TANON STRAIT THAT

MAY RESULT IN THE LOSSES OF SOURCES OF LIVELIHOOD OF

THE SAID AREA WITH THE END IN VIEW OF DEVISING MEASURES TO

COUNTER THE SAID LOSSES

FISHERFOLKS AS WELL AS THE IMMINENT COLLAPSE OF ECO-TOURISM IN


Whereas, Section 16, Article I1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the *

Philippines declares that the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a

balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature;


Whereas, Section 7, Article XI11 states that the State shall protect the rights of

subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities, to the preferential use of the

communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore. It shall provide

support to such fishermen through appropriate technology and research, adequate

financial, production, and marketing assistance, and other services. The State shall also

protect, develop, and conserve such resources;


Whereas, Section 16 from the same Article bestows the right of the people and

their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social,

political, and economic decision-making shall not be abridged. The State shall, by law,

facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms;


Whereas, the Philippines was a signing party in the Convention on Biological

Diversity adopted in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, thereby compelling the country to

promote the protection of ecosystems, natural habitats and the maintenance of viable

populations of species in natural surroundings;


Whereas, the same treaty recognized that it is vital, to anticipate, prevent and

attack the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at source;


Whereas, the same treaty also noted that where there is a threat of significant

reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be

used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat;


Whereas, the same treaty bestows the signing party the task to promote, on the

basis of reciprocity, notification, exchange of information and consultation on activities

under their jurisdiction or control which are likely to significantly affect adversely the

biological diversity of other States or areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, by

encouraging the conclusion of bilateral, regional or multilateral arrangements, as

appropriate;


Whereas, Tanon Strait straddles the islands of Negros and Cebu and is a distinct

habitat of the chambered nautilus (local name, tuklong), a migration route of Whale

Sharks, and home to at least nine species of cetaceans;


Whereas, the Strait houses a relatively high marine biodiversity with the

northern portion known for its cetacean populations, thus whale and dolphin-watching

(eco-tourism) is also a major industry besides fishing that earns at least two million

pesos a year, as identified by a study;


Whereas, Presidential Proclamation 1234 declaring the Strait as a protected

seascape was signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1998 due to the

aforementioned characteristics;


Whereas, it was reported that on 21 December 2004, the Department of Energy

(DOE) signed a contract with Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (JAPEX) for oil

exploration and drilling in a 2,850 kilometer area offshore of Tanon Strait;


Whereas, fact-finding studies undertaken by concerned people’s organizations

claimed that there were adverse effects such as environmental destruction and fish

catch reduction after the first exploration activity through seismic surveys launched in

the year 2005;


Whereas, the same group alleged that the first exploration activity was not

preceded by an environmental impact assessment and that there were no consultations

involving the fishing communities amid the dangers that the seismic surveys poised to

the environment;


Whereas, the second. oil exploration activity commenced on mid-November of

2007 along with a fishing ban of two months reportedly imposed by JAPEX; during this

period, the said firm shall be conducting exploration activities covering seven square

kilometers of Tanon Strait;


Whereas, a study pointed out that the economic losses of the 1,500 fisherfolks

that may be brought about by the two-month ban will amount to an average of P16

million;


Whereas, experts in marine sciences asserted that the oil exploration activities

might drive away marine organisms and species of dolphins, as well as affect the sexual

behavior of the latter, thus greatly affect the eco-tourism and fishing that make up most

of the livelihood of the communities within the area;


Whereas, numerous groups through their resolutions and positions coursed

through media and other national agencies have called for investigations and review by

appropriate government institutions, taking into account the inputs of the scientific

community;



Whereas, there is a need to look into the alleged harmful effects in the

environment brought by the activities in the course of finding out commercially viable

quantities of oil and gas reserves in the Tanon Strait;


Whereas, the alleged threats to the livelihood of the communities necessitate an

investigation with the end in view of formulating remedial measures to mitigate the

adverse consequences of the said activities;


NOW BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, to direct the

appropriate Senate Committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the

alleged adverse effects of the oil exploration and drilling in the Tanon Strait that may

result in the losses of sources of livelihood of fisherfolks as well as the imminent

collapse of eco-tourism in the said area with the end in view of devising measures to

counter the said losses.


Adopted,


Loren Legarda

Senator



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