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Cong. Edgar Chatto supports suspension of oil survey
« on: June 25, 2007, 10:34:27 PM »
The Bohol Standard

“No seismic survey on Bohol waters pending resolution of environmental, economic, livelihood and other issues raised by various sectors.” This was the commitment of the Department of Energy (DOE) to First District Congressman Edgar M. Chatto upon the solon’s arrival from his official trip in Africa.

Likewise, Chatto asked DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes and Regional Seven (7) Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca to deploy technical men of DENR and make their own official position on the impact of the seismic survey and oil exploration on “sustainable biodiversity conservation” strongly pushed by the Boholanos.

Chatto, who just arrived from Tunisia, North Africa heading the Philippine Delegation in the UN WTO International Forum for Parliamentarians, asked top DOE Officials in Manila led by Sec Raphael Lotilla for an update of the agency’s actions taken on the complaints discussed prior to his official trip abroad.

It may be noted that as early as June 7, Chatto wrote a letter and talked to Secretary Lotilla sounding alarm bells on the project proponents’ lack of consultation and transparency among boholano stakeholders. In response, Sec Lotilla tasked DOE, BFAR & NORASIAN representatives to meet with the solon on June 9, the day before Chatto left for an official trip to Africa. Also, present were Vice Gov Julius Caesar F. Herrera, Provincial Admin Tommy Abapo (representing Governor Aumentado), Provincial Board Members of the First District and incumbent Mayors of some affected towns.

Subsequently, Chatto briefed Lotilla on his own observations and recommendations among others, include: (1) more time for consultation and dialogue with stakeholders, hence the need to postpone seismic survey; (2) identification of affected fishery and tourism sectors as basis for compensation mechanisms; (3) local government sharing of benefits; and (4) directly addressing environmental issues.

Upon Cong Chatto’s return on June 19, he sent another letter to Secretary Lotilla seeking updates on actions taken by DOE during his absence. DOE officials led by Assistant Secretary Jun Delfin then met Chatto Friday, June 22 at Sofitel Hotel in Manila to report that: (1) survey in Bohol is stopped pending resolution of issues raised by Boholano stakeholders; (2) Gov. Aumentado has formed a TWG to address issues on compensation mechanism and environmental concerns; (3) continuous consultation with stakeholders is ongoing in affected towns; (4) environmental issues remain “unsettled”.

Since environmental concerns are directly under the technical coverage of DENR, Cong Chatto then called by cellphone and also wrote officially DENR Sec Angelo Reyes and DENR 7 Regional Director Sibbaluca to take categorical position on the environmental issues raised which can guide both the proponents and stakeholders. “Aside from the strong local advocacy for sustainable development among Boholanos specially in the agri-fishery sectors, conserving Bohol’s rich biodiversity should also be a national concern since the province is a prime eco-cultural tourism destination which can contribute largely to the country’s attractiveness as a favored destination in Asia” Chatto said.



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