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THE Technical Working Group (TWG) that Gov. Erico Aumentado formed to conduct
before, during and after surveys in the wake of the seismic survey of the
Bohol-Cebu Strait conducted by NorAsian Energy Ltd. Friday completed tasking to
determine the effects of the sound pulses to fishes and marine mammals.

  Chaired and co-chaired by Engr. Renato Villaber, deputy head of the Bohol
Environment Management Office (BEMO) and Executive Director Emilia Roslinda of
PROCESS Foundation, the TWG formed sub-groups to focus on surveying fish
resources, that is, conduct visual census that involve diving complete with
videography; fisheries that involve looking into marine protected areas and
recording fishermen’s catch; and marine mammals.

  The before, during and after surveys continue even as a group opposed to the
seismic survey for fear of adversely affecting the environment led by City Mayor
Dan Lim, fishermen’s organizations chairmen, members of environment-oriented
non-government organizations (NGOs) and others, assisted by Executive Director
Raul Barbarona of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), City Legal
Officer Doni Piquero, lawyer Florendo Columnas and Tagbilaran City Councilor
Danilo Bantugan as counsels for the petitioners filed a petition for certiorari,
prohibition, injunction with prayer for preliminary injunction, temporary
restraining order and ex parte temporary restraining order.

  A special raffle landed the case in the sala of Judge Achilles Melicor of Branch 4
of the Regional Trial Court of Bohol. Melicor did not issue a 72-hour TRO but a
hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

  The study  Secretary Raphael Lotilla, as announced by Assistant Sec. Francisco
Delfin Jr. of the Department of Energy (DOE) has committed P100,000 for the study
even as Roslinda said she will tap other institutions, the Foundation for the
Philippine Environment (FPE) included for additional funds.
 
  The DOE commitment, it turned out, will be barely enough for the drastically
slashed budget prepared by Amida Diwata Macansantos, researcher of the Silliman
University (SU) for the ‘before’ survey.

  Although funding the baseline study, DOE Region 7 Director Antonio Labios assured
the TWG that DOE will not in any way interfere with the survey to make it
independent.

  Macansantos represented Dr. Nida Calumpong, SU professor and expert. She could not
come because she had to attend to her father who underwent surgery in a hospital
in Cebu although Roslinda said she has agreed to take on the task. Macansantos
said she still needs to apprise Calumpong on what transpired during Friday’s
meeting.

  As early as yesterday, however, the fisheries subgroup already started
inventorying the kind and volume of fish catch as well as the type of fishing gear
used in as many landing areas that they can cover. Top on the list are Cabilao
Island in Loon town, Punta Cruz in Maribojoc, Mabaw Reef off Tagbilaran City,
Bingag in Dauis town and Doljo in Panglao town.

  The Holy Name University (HNU) represented by Assistant Professor Joeppette
Hermosilla leads this subgroup, with the assistance of the local Bureau of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and includes Victor Rondez, Juanito Obispo
and Servando Toledo, chair of people’s or fishermen’s organizations in their
respective towns, representatives from SU, BEMO, municipal agrocultural officers
or fisheries technicians, Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management
Council (MFARMC) chairmen.

  The fish resources and marine mammals subgroups will meet on June 25 and start
they respective surveys the day after.

  SU leads this subgroup, with Jose Garcia of BEMO, Mary Jane Lazarte of PROCESS,
Neil Antoque of the Maribojoc Bay Executive Management Office (MBEMO), Giovanni
Famor of BFAR, Holger Horn of the Alona Beach Community Foundation, Inc. (ABCFI),
Alvin Nacu of consultant Seastems as members. Horn who represents dive shop owners
and operators in Panglao and Nonit Ranay of BFAR are the videographers.

  SU still leads the marine mammals subgroup, with Remedios Regacho of BEMO, Liza
Flores of PROCESS, an expert spotter from Pamilacan Island in Baclayon and Bruna
of BFAR as members.

  Rondez, Obispo, Roslinda, Flores, Lazarte and Antoque are among the petitioners in
the TRO case.(June Blanco, Office of the Governor)

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