Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lawyers join call to stop oil drilling


Lawyers join call to stop oil drilling

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 08:13am (Mla time) 11/23/2008
ANOTHER voice was added to the opposition against drilling for natural oil and gas in south Cebu proposed by a foreign firm.

The Cebu Provincial Board approved on Nov. 17 a resolution supporting the call of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu chapter to stop the oil exploration project of Norasian Corp. Ltd. off the coastal waters of Sibonga and Argao towns “unless it can prove that the project does not destroy the environment.”

The PB said it wanted to be certain that all legal requirements for the conduct of oil exploration are met and that consultation is conducted with the affected fisherfolk.

PB Member Victor Maambong, the resolution sponsor, said that while Cebu “urgently needs to develop our own sources of energy especially in this critical time of global economic crisis, it must be done with the least possible damage to our environment and with utmost respect to the human rights of the marginalized members of the community who stand to be adversely affected by this development.”

Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacaltos said that he too was against the conduct of an oil drilling unless consultation is done with the affected fisherfolk and compensation is assured for them for any inconvenience suffered during the exploration.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia ordered the suspension of the oil exploration by Norasian in the absence of consultation with the affected Local Government Units (LGU) and fisherfolk.

The Department of Energy (DOE) drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that stipulates the foreign firm’s responsibilities to the affected LGU and fishermen.

Mayor Balcatos said he is not inclined to sign this.

“They haven’t come here yet for a consultation. I will not sign the MOU and the governor said that she will not lift the suspension order unless there is consultation,” he said.
Maambong said in his resolution that Norasia failed to secure permits from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Earlier an EMB official said that the exploration was “exemptable” based on DOE administrative order no. 30 which was passed in 2006.

“Fisherfolk in the towns of Argao and Sibonga, Cebu are complaining that their livelihood is affected by the oil exploration project, more so, that they are also experiencing harassment from both the government and private sectors,” said Maambong’s resolution. REPORTER DORIS C. BONGCAC

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