Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sibonga, Argao fishers oppose oil exploration

Local News

Sibonga, Argao fishers oppose oil exploration

Saturday, September 13, 2008
For the third time, fisherfolks of Sibonga and Argao towns staged a fluvial protest yesterday against the oil drilling and seismic surveys to be done by the NorAsian Energy Ltd. of Australia.

Carrying placards, about 500 fishermen including a number of children rode on more than 80 pump boats from Sibonga to the port of Argao.

The fishermen came from barangays Taloot, Langtad, Guianon and Bogo in Argao; and Simala, Bagacay, Bahay and Abugon in Sibonga.

Organizations that joined the protest included the Alyansa sa mga Mangingisda Batok sa Hulga sa NorAsian (AMBAHAN), Simala Bantay Dagat Association (SIMBADA), Panaghiusa sa mga Mangingisda sa Taloot (PAGMATA), Langtad Fisherfolks Association (LAFA), Bagacay Rural Workers Association (BARUWA) and Panaghiusa sa Gagmayang Mangingisda sa Sugbo (PAMANA Sugbo).

While the protest was ongoing, another group of fisherfolks staged a picket in front of the Argao Municipal Hall.

PAMANA Sugbo spokesman Wilbert Dimol said the protest aims to let the public and the officials see that the people, particularly the fisherfolks, are objecting to the NorAsian project.

Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos earlier said to “let the people decide” about the issue.

It was reported that the NorAsian Energy Ltd. started its site survey off Sibonga last Aug. 25 and just finished last Monday.

It is still not certain if oil drilling will be pursued since consultations between the company and barangay captains including some LGU officials are ongoing.

Dimol said the oil exploration will destroy their livelihood and claimed ships of NorAsian have taken away 10 artificial reefs that had been sunk for the fish.

AMBAHAN President Anselmo Simoran also said that they are having a hard time fishing because they are not allowed to fish in the area where the seismic surveys are being conducted.

The fisherfolks have also launched a signature campaign. As of yesterday, Dimol said they have already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

The petition will be submitted to the Provincial Board after their next fluvial protest on September 16.

The next fluvial protest will be joined by Boholanos supporting the fisherfolks’ to call President Gloria Arroyo’s attention.

Arroyo is set to go to Argao on September 16 to inaugurate the coliseum of the town. — Cressida Paula G. Delmo/BRP

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