Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Environmentalists barred


Environmentalists barred
By Carine M. Asutilla
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 09:15:00 11/15/2008

Members of the Save Tañon Strait Citizens’ Movement were disappointed when they were not allowed to go inside the office of the Department of Energy in Central Visayas (DOE-7) yesterday to personally hand the fisherfolk's testimonial letter to Regional Director Antonio Labios.

They were met by Saul Gonzales, DOE officer-in-charge, at the lobby. He told them that Labios was not around and that their office could not accommodate too many people inside including members of the media.

Because of office space constraints, Gonzales said they could only accommodate a representative from the group.

He received and signed the letter for Labios.

Vince Cinches of the Fisherfolk Development Center said his group was dismayed by DOE's refusal.

He said that as a public office, anyone can go inside and transact their business.

The letter was penned by members of the Alyansa sa mga Mangingisda Batok sa hulga sa NorAsian and Panghiusa sa Gagmay’ng Mangingisda sa Sugbo.

The fisherfolk wrote that when a seismic survey was conducted in their area for 10 days in July 2007, they had meager fish catch for about five months.

In August this year, a site location survey was conducted in their area by NorAsian and DOE, which resulted to the loss of their payaos (fish pens).

Benjamin Cabrido, environmental lawyer, said the group had exhausted all efforts to protect Cebu Strait as well as the Tañon Strait outside litigation.

He said that it is high time to bring the matter to the courts.

A notice to sue was issued to NorAsian and DOE and asked them to leave the waters of Sibonga and Argao towns.

Cabrido said that the oil exploration encroaches on the livelihood of fishermen, thus violating their bill of rights, which is the right to life.

Gloria Ramos, another environmental lawyer, said the Philippines also violated some international laws that the country is a signatory of such as the Millennium Development Goals that aims to reduce poverty by 50 percent by 2015.

She said that taking away the livelihood of the fishermen was a threat to food security and can increase the percentage of poverty in no time.

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