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Calibrated Deceit?
« on: July 09, 2007, 05:06:56 PM »
July 8, 2007 Editorial of the Bohol Chronicle Sunday Edition

Foreign-owned Nor-Asian Energy Ltd. must think Boholanos are all village idiots.

First, we do not agree because we have produced a Philippine President and other achievers in various fields - from arts, culture, beauty and sports. Second, a Boholano patriot named Dagohoy waged a hundred years war against an unjust rule of (a colonizer) Spain who trampled on the rights of the people.

Certainly, intelligence and common valor are not absent in our Boholano blood.

But Nor-Asian Energy Ltd. - like the Mafiosi out to plot a dirty con game - brought all parties to the bargaining seismic oil survey in the Bohol Straits.

The Tri-Partite Agreement between the Proponents, the Oppositors and the Government (local and Department of Energy) stated three issues have to be settled before the survey: just compensation, environmental impact and equitable sharing of oil revenues. Between honorable men, a handshake would have sealed the agreement.

Apparently while no one was looking, the Foreigners started the seismic survey the other Thursday (June 28) and did a 7-day 3-D seismic survey off a Loon island that ended only when the Department of Energy (sic) ordered them to halt. For the surveyors were absolutely in violation of the agreement.

One, the Loon payao owners were paid but the fisher folks clearly rejected the P111 compensation offer. Besides, even mere Loon seismic blasts will affect Maribojoc, Tagbilaran and the Panglao's famous Bohol Marine Triangle - so the other towns had to expressly concur. Worse, Nor-Asian claimed the Loon LGU gave authority which then mayor (now Board Member) Yul Lopez categorically denied.

Two, Nor-Asian knew that the baseline data research - precisely to determine the environmental impact - was not done yet. But they went ahead anyway.

Three, the equitable sharing of revenues remained an issue. Although the National Government may have inked a deal, contracts like these appear to be worth like toilet paper only considering that a similar oil consortium in Palawan - that started oil exploration since 2001 - never gave the province the agreed sharing. The case is now in the Supreme Court.

That is not our imagination talking - but Palawan Governor Joel Reyes stating facts and figures when interviewed over Station DYRD.

We cannot label it a "conspiracy" and perhaps we can allow some people to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Be the judge yourself of certain events.

The Judiciary gave a "four-day" break by raffling the case - fending off the TRO request while the survey went its merry course. It was last Wednesday that Rep. Edgar Chatto took audience with the DOE officers in Manila to seek stoppage of this "calibrated deceit" done along the Bohol sea while the public was awaiting Gov. Erico Aumentado to issue a statement the day when Cabilao resort owner reported the survey to have started.

And the Department of Energy - if it had the power to stop the survey, did it also exercise its power to allow it despite the knowledge of the gross violations of the Tri-Partite Agreement? If DOE did not allow it, why is there no sanction on Nor-Asian for adding insult to injury by seemingly negotiating in good faith - but back-stabbing people at the same time?

The Website of M/V Pacific Sword reportedly stated the vessel was on its way to Singapore - obviously no longer waiting for the baseline survey result. Any logical High School kid can surmise, the 3-D surveys already confirmed what they wanted to know and the 2-Ds are merely "icing on the cake."

We were told that the DOE itself has been conducting 2-D surveys in the area since the 1980s. This scripted "calibrated deceit" of Nor-Asia, therefore, apparently wants to give the impression that the survey isn't over till the Fat Lady sings - since they are awaiting for the baseline report to resume activity (sic). Who are they kidding?

But this is a boxing match - and Nor-Asian probably won Round Two as we stated in Wednesday's editorial. But we have 10 Rounds to go.

For now, TWG can record the actual and potential damage on the environment of both the seismic survey and actual oil exploration on tourism-haven and fish-laden island like Bohol. People's organization and cause-oriented environmental groups should conduct intensive "education" on all residents of the affected towns and city.

The legislative bodies of such locales should officially make their position on "equitable sharing" and make sure able-bodied residents of the locality be prioritized in the scheme of possible hiring of personnel for the oil project if it happens.

Finally, our NGOs should link up and ally with national and international environmental groups for the larger battles ahead. Remember 10 rounds?

What has always bothered us no end in this episode is the fact that if the consortium is so damn sure there is natural gas oil under water why couldn't they wait for a few days and not create a ruckus that has frayed nerves and stirred feelings of being taken for a ride by the masters of the sleight of the hand? Why indeed?

It behooves our officialdom to listen and listen well to the words of Palawan Governor Reyes. That it is the local Government's prime duty to assert the rights of the communities in terms of protecting the environment.

Not doing so would make our public officials as protectors more of the interests of the "foreigners" than the poor Filipinos that had elected them to office to advance their community aspirations and health.

That would make us doormats - the closest definition of which is the contraption where visitors leave their dirt going in and out - after enjoying the hospitality of our own house. It's as bad as being mistaken for being all village idiots.

Now, that is depressing, don't you think?

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