Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Garcia halts survey to find oil after firm fails to consult LGUs


Garcia halts survey to find oil after firm fails to consult LGUs

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Sunday, November 30, 2008 - 23:32
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THE order temporarily halting an Australian-based firm’s oceanographic survey on possible presence of oil and natural gas off the seawaters of Argao and Sibonga towns stays, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said.

“They (firm officials) failed to coordinate with the local government units. They failed to apply for an efficient, quick and transparent system of compensation to fisherfolk,” Garcia told a recent press conference.

She also said that no clear consultations were done with the affected residents.

NorAsia Energy Ltd. launched exploratory surveys in Argao and Sibonga September this year.

But fisherfolks, cause-oriented groups, and environmentalist lawyers have strongly objected to its activity, which they said put to risk marine life and the livelihood of fishermen.

Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacaltos and Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos both refused to sign the draft memorandum of agreement presented to them by the Department of Energy (DOE).

The agreement was aimed at conciliating with the two southeastern town mayors, who also objected to the seismic surveys.

Bacaltos said he would not sign the agreement until the DOE deletes a provision stating that “proper consultation were conducted” with the affected residents and fisherfolks.

He said NorAsia has not conducted any public hearing on its plans.

Galeos, on the other hand, said he has yet to read the agreement, adding that he will make sure the fisherfolks’ concerns will be addressed.

Garcia had issued an executive order (EO) suspending NorAsia’s seismic survey.

She said it was insufficient for the firm to simply furnish her and the two concerned town mayors a letter informing them of the activity.

DOE 7 Director Antonio Labios and NorAsia representatives, who paid her a courtesy call recently, had assured her that the firm will address all concerns.

“But as of now, the EO stands because I had requested them (NorAsia) to come up with an agreement on how further exploration should be done, especially on the
compensation of affected fisherfolk,” said Garcia. (GMD)

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(December 1, 2008 issue)
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