Friday, September 12, 2008

Congress asked to probe oil searches in Argao, Sibonga

Friday, September 12, 2008
Congress asked to probe oil searches in Argao, Sibonga

WORRIED about an ongoing oil and gas exploration in the towns of Argao and Sibonga, an organization that represents fishers is asking Congress to investigate NorAsian’s operations.

“We would like to request from our local congressmen to have an onsite congressional investigation,” said Vince Cinches, executive director of the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. (Fidec).

Since this is a local problem, local legislators should also take a stand, he added. Argao belongs to the province’s second congressional district, represented by Rep. Pablo Garcia, while Sibonga belongs to the first district, represented by Rep. Eduardo Gullas.

Fidec and local fishers are inviting all the local lawmakers to hold their “onsite investigation” in Argao and Sibonga.

Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) said that the House committee on natural resources already met last Wednesday to address the issue.

“I think the committee decided to have the onsite inquiry, though no date has been set. The committee decided to have an inquiry, because the Bohol congressmen are also asking for it,” said Garcia in a phone interview.

But Garcia, for his part, said he saw nothing wrong with oil and gas exploration as long as it has a very limited impact on the environment.

“We would provide them also with documents. All we want is to compel them to aggressively conduct an investigation,” said Cinches.

Conducting the inquiry in Manila would be costly, he added.

“Should they come for the onsite investigation, they can see the socio-economic and cultural impact of oil and gas exploration. In addition, they will know who are responsible for this problem and they will identify ways of how to penalize them,” said Cinches.

Garcia, however, pointed out that the Constitution allows such explorations “if there are identified resources available to utilize.”

In Wednesday’s meeting, the House committee invited an international marine environmentalist, Barry Shepherd, to discuss offshore mining.

“I asked him if there are any adverse affects of oil and gas exploration to the environment and he said there are very little effects,” said Garcia. He added, though, that the committee will still hold its onsite inquiry on NorAsian’s operations, despite Shepherd’s reassurance. (EPB)

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