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Court hearing on oil survey petition delayed
« on: June 28, 2007, 10:22:38 AM »
The Bohol Chronicle
June 27, 2007

Hearings at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) on the petition of groups opposed to the oil and natural gas exploration at the Bohol-Cebu Strait is feared to drag on until next week.

Lawyer Raul Barbarona, Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) executive director told the Chronicle yesterday that since Monday, RTC Branch 4 Presiding Judge Achilles Melicor gave the petitioners an opportunity to explain the merits of the petition for certiorari, injunction and temporary restraining order (TRO) filed last week.

Hearings are likewise set on July 2 to 4 for oil exploration proponents NorAsian Energy Ltd. and the Department of Energy (DoE) to present their side, according to Barbarona.

Meanwhile, fishermen's groups, fishing workers and fish vendors staged a protest rally Monday at the Capitol simultaneous with a fluvial protest between the Cebu and Bohol waters.

The rally was attended by more than 100 vendors and fishermen and some 200 fishing boats.

According to Ira Pamat, the group's spokesperson, the two forms of mobilization will continue until the oil seismic survey at the Cebu side will be stopped.

Barbarona, however, fears that if the court could not issue a TRO tomorrow, NorAsian would commence their seismic exploration at the Bohol side. He said, survey at the Cebu flank is due to be completed tomorrow.

If this happens, Barbarona pointed out, his group will ask the DoE and NorAsian to honor their commitment not to proceed with the exploration until issues and concerns are ironed out.

A barangay captain in Cabilao (Loon) had told Barbarona that divers and some fishermen have already felt the impact of the seismic activity and the noise generated by M/V Pacific Sword, which is conducting the seismic exploration off Argao (Cebu), which is more or less 10 kilometers from Cabilao.

Fish catch have also declined significantly according fishermen's groups.

According to Barbarona, should the court deny the petition for TRO, hearings for certiorari and injunction will still be conducted.

The complaint filed by petitioners opposing the seismic survey are asking the court to declare null and void the certificate of non-coverage (CNC) that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued to NorAsian Energy Ltd. through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) - 7.

The absence of an environmental impact assessment for the project is also being questioned by the oppositors.

Barbarona said he hopes this petition will become a basis for future cases involving offshore oil exploration.

At present, a seismic survey, under Philippine laws, is just treated similar to land or cadastral surveys wherein environmental issues are not usually considered aside from the loss of income of fishermen in the survey area.


For his part, first district Rep. Edgar Chatto said, "with or without a TRO, the proponents (DoE and NorAsian) will have to resolve the issues and concerns (raised by those opposed) first before starting the oil exploration."

During a dialogue with NorAsian and DoE officials last Sunday, Chatto said the proponents have committed to allay the apprehensions of groups opposing the project.
The proponents have assured that basic data, information on the impact of the seismic survey, environmental concerns, loss of income of fishermen and destruction of their payaos were threshed out, Chatto disclosed.

Eco-tourism development is the growth agenda of the province, said the solon, "that is why Boholanos are very passionate in defending the environment as they are aware of the province's development plan."

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Oil Survey Petition raffled to another court

Started by Ligalig-Mike on Talk of the Town

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Last post June 25, 2007, 10:31:32 PM
by Ligalig-Mike

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