Thursday, October 16, 2008

Garcia orders DOE to stop exploration

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Local News

Garcia orders DOE to stop exploration

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia ordered the Department of Energy Regional Office-7 to halt the oil exploration surveys and other related works in the municipalities of Sibonga and Argao.

In her Executive Order No. 09, Garcia ordered the regional office of the DOE-7 to cease and desist from its activities until such time that required consultations shall be made and the legitimate concerns will be addressed.

“It is hereby ordered, the Department of Energy Regional Office 7, its officers, agents and all other persons acting for and on behalf, to cease and desist from continuing in the conduct of any and all oil exploration surveys and other related works in the seabed and seawaters of the municipalities of Argao and Sibonga, both of the Province of Cebu, until such time that the required consultations shall be made and all legitimate concerns of the concerned parties shall have been properly addressed,” Garcia said in her order.

The governor said the activities of the DOE were undertaken without consultation with all parties concerned, particularly the provincial government and the towns of Argao and Sibonga.

Garcia said that the activities have violated Section 2 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

Under the law, it was likewise the policy of the State to “require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and people’s organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions.”

In her executive order, Garcia also ordered the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and other law enforcement agencies of the government to implement the cease-and-desist order.

The DOE regional office, Cebu Provincial Police Office, Philippine Navy, and the Offices of the Mayor of the municipalities of Argao and Sibonga were furnished with copies of the said order.

“The activities of the DOE have greatly affected some fishermen in the area whose fishing implements/gears have been damaged and/or lost as a result, thereby greatly jeopardizing their only means of livelihood and their future,” Garcia’s order further read.

The fishermen have already complained that they were “driven away every time the vessel carrying survey equipment would pass through their town’s waters.” They said that a vessel of the Coast Guard would reportedly often lead the survey vessel.

NorAsia, an Australian oil and gas explorer, will fund and operate oil and gas exploration activities in the tradition of TaƱon Strait offshore mining including Cebu-Bohol Strait and Argao, which is the latest target for oil drilling.

Seismic surveys were first conducted in the waters off the coastal barangays of Simala, Bagakay, Bahay, and Poblacion last year.

The company reportedly gave financial assistance worth P1,500 each to at least 200 fishermen who were asked to temporarily leave the survey area. Owners of fish traps were paid P8,000 to P10,000 each. —Garry B. Lao/MEEV

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