Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cebu fishermen join protest vs NY dinner

Cebu fishermen join protest vs NY dinner

By Iste Sesante Leopoldo
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 01:32:00 08/19/2009

Filed Under: Food, Restaurants & catering, Government, Travel & Commuting, Protest
CEBU CITY, Philippines—At least 20 members of a militant fisherman’s group shared a set of meal that could be their daily fare but which Tuesday became a symbol of their protest against allegedly excessive spending by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her US trip.

Members of the Panaghugpong Sa Gagmayng Mangingisda sa Sugbo (Alliance of Small Fisherfolk in Cebu) ate lunch of rice and dried fish in a protest action in front of the Malacañang sa Sugbo here.

“How can they manage to spend lavishly on their meals when the whole country, especially the marginalized sector, cannot afford to have a meal three times a day?” said Victor Lapaz, Pamana Sugbo chair.

He said the meal that his group ate was the fishermen’s usual fare.

He said fishermen usually skip breakfast and dinner because of extreme poverty.

“It’s okay if they don’t have breakfast or dinner as long as they can have lunch so they will have enough energy for work,” Lapaz said.

The National Statistical Coordinating Board has identified the fishing sector as among the poorest in the country.

The board said a family of five needs P6,274 a month to survive.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

UN takes cognizance over oil explorations in Visayas seas

UN takes cognizance over oil explorations in Visayas seas
(The Freeman) Updated August 08, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - The Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. warned local government units and other authorities supporting off-shore mining operation that the international community is now aware of the plight of fisher folk affected by the explorations attempts.

Vince Cinches, executive director of Fidec, said that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has responded to the online petition posted last year on the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty website.

The petition letter on “hunger and plunder in the seas of central Philippines” was addressed to officials of the government, including the president, as well as the international organization for the protection of the environment. It gained thousands of signatories from supporters around the world.

The response from the UN states that “the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right food, Mr. Oliver De Schutter, has received information on the oil and gas exploration projects in the Tañon Strait region in the Philippines. As he examines this information, we would be most grateful if you could provide us with some clarifications.”

Ciches said the UN and Fidec are presently coordinating with each other and sharing information on the case. Information is being held confidential until the UN makes it move on the issue.

PCFS and Fidec are seeking explanation from the concerned parties over the findings of a recent International Fact-Finding Mission by the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific on the effects of off-shore oil and gas exploration activities in the protected seascape of Tañon Strait and Cebu-Bohol Strait in Central Philippines.

The authors of the petition said Tañon Strait is one of the world’s most unique and important centers for marine biodiversity, a breeding ground for 14 species of cetaceans. Cebu-Bohol Strait, meanwhile, hosts nearby the Danajon Double Barrier Reefs Bank, one of only six double barrier reefs in the world.

“However, due to service contracts awarded by the Philippine government to the Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) and the Australia-based NorAsia Energy Ltd., environmentally-destructive seismic surveys and drilling operations have been conducted in the area even without prior consultation with local communities and government officials,” the petition reads.

Fish catch reportedly declined by 70 to 80 percent, causing hunger and displacement of thousands of small fisher folk in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental.

“They have been banned from fishing while exploration activities were ongoing and thus denied of their constitutional rights over municipal waters and their basic right to food and livelihood. A scientific study also indicates that these activities have disturbed the natural habitat of dolphins and whales,” the letter stated further. — Jessica Ann R. Pareja/JMO (THE FREEMAN)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Environmentalists: Study long-term effects of coal ash

Environmentalists: Study long-term effects of coal ash
(The Freeman) Updated August 06, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Environmentalists, in a forum yesterday, gave further explanation on coal ash and other hazardous wastes that contribute to greenhouse gases, emphasizing the “need to delve first into the long-term effects of coal ash to public health, being a worthwhile investment.”

Francis de la Cruz of Greenpeace, who tackled on the topic “Coal: Anything but clean,” explained that despite the reports saying that coal-fired power plants will be securing the energy supply of the province, its long-term effects on the health of the people should not be taken lightly.

He said that there are always other ways to produce energy from all over the country and conserve it without harming the environment and risking the health of the people.

Health implications of these said wastes and coal ash was also discussed by Dr. Romeo Quijano, a toxicologist and a professor of UP, explaining further how high toxicity is found in wastes that could effect to diseases such as in the heart, brain and kidney.

Quijano said that people may experience the effect of the toxins immediately or may show in a few years depending on how the person has closely been contaminated by wastes and the allergic reactions these may cause.

Lito Vasquez of the Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu discussed on the investments made that have added to environmental damage. He stressed on the current issue of the loan asked by the Korea Electric Power Corporation-Salcon Power Corporation to the Asian Development Bank which is said to be approved on August 18.

Vasquez said that they will be passing within this week a petition to the bank seeking a stop to the granting of loans. The petition would be signed by various groups.

The changes and the negative effects of coal ash produced by coal-fired power plants in the communities, especially those near the plants were also highlighted to raise public awareness on the effects of toxins to public health.

Vince Cinches of the Fisherfolk Development Center discussed this to the group citing an area in Toledo City, as an example, where “coal ash is found all over.”

The Global Legal Action on Climate Change led by lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, other leading environmental groups, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines initiated the forum participated in by students who mostly are taking up law at the University of the Philippines, University of San Jose-Recoletos, and the University of San Carlos. — AJ de la Torre/MEEV (THE FREEMAN)