Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fishermen assured amid oil exploration

Fishermen assured amid oil exploration
By Bernadette Parco
Cebu Daily News

First Posted 09:55:00 11/13/2008

Fisherfolks in the towns of Argao and Sibonga whose livelihood was affected by the ongoing oil exploration activities in their area were told to resume fishing following a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) yesterday.

“I told them to go back to fishing,” Alejandro Alonzo, CHR-7 Regional Director, told after the more than two-hour dialog between the agency and the fisherfolks.

The fisherfolks complained that the pollution caused by the oil exploration activities done by NorAsia Energy Ltd in Argao and Sibonga reduced their fish catch.

They alleged that their fish catch had already been depleted by the encroachment of commercial fishers in their areas.

“There were also military personnel who told us that they were concerned about the presence of leaders of non-government organizations who are communists,” said Anselmo Somuran, vice chairman of the Simala Bantay Dagat Association in Sibonga.

Alonzo asked Regional Director Antonio Labios of the Department of Energy in Central Visayas (DoE-7) to review the list of names of Argao and Sibonga residents who were given financial assistance.

Labios said the DoE-7 made a list and distributed the financial assistance. He said they would review the list anew and give assistance to others affected by the project.

Labios said the oil exploration activity is part of the government's goal to reduce the country's dependency on foreign oil.

He also said their agency screens all companies to determine their compliance with environmental standards.

Maj. Bart Pade of the Judge Advocate General Office, said an officer of the 78th Infantry Battalion of Central Command denied allegations of military harassment on the fisherfolks during their protest.

“I will refer this to the 78th IB. It is possible that there will be an investigation on this (matter),” Pade told .

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