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Bohol Officials, where art thou?
« on: September 13, 2007, 05:05:38 PM »
An Editorial of the Bohol Chronicle, September 12, 2007

No less than the American Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney was just here to pitch for environmental preservation - particularly of the Bohol coastal area. This marine life and bio-diverse habitat is the beneficiary of an American aid program calling for their protection.

That same week in Sydney, Australia, American President George Bush and the Philippines' Gloria M. Arroyo side-stepped protocol to discuss only three things: terrorism, the economy and the environment.

In other words, every man and his uncle, is talking environment today. Next to poverty, this area presents the next biggest concern of mankind in the 21st century.

As you may know the Government has granted 34 oil and gas exploration service contracts over the country after the Malampaya Gas and Oil Project in 2001. As editorialized in the past, the Chronicle has nothing against oil exploration per se as they bring dollars (as exports) or keep dollars (as import substitute) and hopefully create jobs near the area.

Primordially, we are concerned about the price we have to pay for such exploration. The indecent haste and the recent blinding machination done by Australian interests in the recent "seismic oil survey" off the coast of Loon - still has left a bad taste in our mouths, to be ignored.

Documented impact on the environment has been ventilated even at the early stage of the mere seismic survey - so the imagination can run wild as to what damage the oil exploration will do on people and the environment in Bohol. Very soon, like a thief in the night - massive exploration gadgets and vessels will be prowling the Cebu-Bohol Strait which is one of the objects of the oil exploration granted permit by the Department of Energy.

It is a relief, therefore, that a full-blown Congressional Inquiry has been sought by House Resolution No 212 introduced by 7 Administration congressmen from 2 Visayan-speaking provinces of Cebu and Negros Oriental and 4 militant party list groups.

The move is to direct the House Committee on Natural resources to "investigate the impact of offshore mining in the Visayan Sea."

Aside from the Cebu-Bohol Strait, affected would be the Tañon Strait between Cebu and Negros and waters off Antique, Leyte, Palawan, Mindoro Occidental, Albay and Camarines Sur.

The Philippines has been considered as one with the highest marine diversity in the world with the highest diversity found in the Visayan Sea - particularly those waters off the coasts of Bohol, Cebu and Negros. They are considered protected seascapes rich in marine biodiversity and the other fishing grounds are likewise considered as "environmentally fragile" even by Government.

In the Cebu-Bohol Strait, the oil exploration activity covering 444,000 hectares of marine waters will be undertaken by the Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development, Alcorn Gold Resources Corporation, Petro Energy Corporation and farmed-in by the Australian-owned AustralAsian Energy Ltd. and Ottoman Energy Ltd.

In Cebu, the Government and the NGOs acted with dispatch. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cebu Province approved Resolution 2524 exhorting Congress to proclaim the Visayan Sea as Marine Reservation and Heritage Site.

The local NGOs led by the Pamalakaya did an EIM or Environmental Investigative Mission on the effects of the seismic survey and related exploration activities in Toledo City and two towns in Cebu.

The findings are horrifying: (1) Fish catch dropped by 75% from 20 kilos to 3-5 kilos a day; (2) 120 payaos were destroyed but only 33 were paid for; (3) Fish kills were noted in at least 14 barangay coastal areas; (4) skin rashes and other skin diseases were noticed among children ranging from 5 to 12 years old.

A separate study says each oil platform emits 214,000 pounds of air pollutants every year while an exploration well generates 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide, 6 tons of sulfur oxide and 5 tons of volcanic hydrocarbons. A FIDEC Study also disclosed that oil exploration produce 2,000 metric tons of toxic water waste per drilling.

Worse, this leads to massive production of toxic wastes like cadmium, lead, chromium and arsenic. They can lead to liver and kidney disorders, lung cancer, affect the nervous system and cause other respiratory diseases and skin cancers.

Those are life threatening and environmentally endangering reasons that Eduardo Gullas (Cebu-KAMPI), Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu-KAMPI), Antonio Cuenco (Cebu_Promdi-Lakas), Jocelyn Limkaicvhiong (Negros Oriental-Lakas-CMD), George Arnaiz (Negros Oriental NPC) and Henry Teves (Negros Oriental-Lakas) of the Administration signed the resolution No. 212.

The same reason militant party list representatives Teddy Casino, Crispin Beltran, Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza signed the resolution No 212.

But, unfortunately, the three Bohol solons' names are conspicuous by their absence. The Provincial Capitol and the Sangunniang Panlalawigan have yet to get their act in insuring that by swallowing in the Oil Exploration Mandate - the province is not taking one step forward and two steps backward.

Where are Bohol's public officials?

The Environment is too precious to be ignored and given a second billing.

Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

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