Monday, August 4, 2008
Victory in Tanon Strait
Negros Oriental Vice Mayors Stand vs
Oil Exploration in Tañon Strait
The growing Visayas-wide campaign against oil exploration in the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape, which lies between Negros Oriental and Cebu, got a boost with the recent approval by the Negros Oriental Vice Mayors’ League of a resolution opposing any extension of oil drilling or any oil exploration at the protected seascape.
BY KARL G. OMBION
Vol. VIII, No. 13, May 4-10, 2008
The growing Visayas-wide campaign against oil exploration in the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS), which lies between Negros Oriental and Cebu, got a boost with the recent approval by the Negros Oriental Vice Mayors’ League of a resolution opposing any extension of oil drilling or any oil exploration at the protected seascape.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, lawyer Gloria Eztenzo Ramos of the Save Tañon Strait Citizens Movement (STSCM) said the resolution is the first collective expression of opposition by ranking local government officials against the oil drilling at Tañon Strait, and may provide a “tipping point” in the citizens’ campaign to stop the oil exploration at the seascape.
“The League and the proponent, Bindoy Vice Mayor Valente D. Yap, have exhibited the much-needed political will to protect the environment, including the migratory species in the protected seascape, as well as the general welfare of the hundreds of thousands of constituents and their families who are dependent on Tañon Strait for their sustenance,” Ramos said.
Ramos said that Tañon Strait is considered one of the ten richest fishing grounds, and the feeding, breeding and nursery grounds, and migratory path of 14 out of 27 species of cetaceans in the Philippines.
“The unprecedented resolution effectively demolishes the claim of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the DoE (Department of Energy) that the local government units were consulted and that the approval of the respective Sanggunian of the estimated forty local government units in the TSPS was obtained prior to the controversial oil drilling,” Ramos added.
Vince Cinches, co-founder of STSCM and executive director of the Cebu-based Fishermen’s Development Center (FIDEC), said that the resolution is “commendable and the kind of politics Cebuano leaders should emulate – one that is devoid of decisions based on patronage and corruption.”
“With this, there is still hope with these kinds of leaders and this should inspire advocates to pursue more fervently our campaign to save Tañon,” Cinches said.
The country’s foremost marine mammal expert, Dr. Lemnuel Aragones of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, welcomed the move saying, “Tañon Strait is a unique natural heritage which has local, national and global significance; this action is an indication, for him that “the local government units of Negros Oriental have awakened and realized that their future and the fragile environment are at stake, from the oil exploitation, since Tañon Strait is very narrow.”
STSCM members attended the stakeholders’ dialogue at Bindoy, Negros Oriental last month and assailed the DENR-led TSPS protected area management board’s membership as anomalous, and contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and existing laws. Bulatlat
For the Cebu Daily News article, click here or read below:
NegOr vice mayors oppose extension of oil exploration
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 01:46pm (Mla time) 04/10/2008
THE Vice Mayor's League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Negros Oriental approved yesterday a resolution urging the national government to stop the oil drilling and exploration activities in Tañon Strait.
Bindoy town Vice Mayor Valente Yap, who sponsored the resolution said he oppose any extension to the oil drilling after scientists observed that there were lesser whales and dolphins in the area during the exploration.
“Okay ang oil exploration but we are dealing with a protected seascape. Dili unta ma-endanger ang whales og dolphins,” said Yap. (Whales and dolphins should not be endangered.)
The vice mayor of Bindoy town said that he believes in the findings of marine scientist Lemnuel Aragones who reported that the sounds generated by the oil drilling and exploration activities have driven out whales and dolphins from the area.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a permit to the Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) to conduct exploratory oil drilling. This was extended to 41 days after JAPEX claimed that they had technical problems associated with the drilling.
Bindoy, 70 kms north of Dumaguete City, is one of 41 municipalities and cities that surround Tañon Strait. The Strait is a deep, narrow navigable body of water between the islands of Negros and Cebu and serves as their conduit between Bohol Sea and Visayan Sea.
The vice mayor also said that if the first seismic survey did not show that Tanon Strait is a site of natural gas and oil then the activities should be stopped.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, who together with lawyers Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio and Ben Cabredo filed a case at the Supreme Court in behalf of dolphins to stop further offshore explorations by Japex, lauded the move of the Bindoy executive.
“For me, the tipping point is reached when local government units start to assert their autonomy and to protect the constituents and the environment,” said Ramos. /Reporter Ma. Bernadette A. Parco
Posted by FIDEC at 8/04/2008 11:12:00 AM