Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Island in the Black Stream

August 11, 2006 - after two years, what now?

Two years after the merchant tanker Solar I (Maritime Development Corp.) sank in the Panay Gulf, oil continues to seep in the sea. More than 200,000 liters of the vessel's cargo of 2 million liters of bunker oil have spilled into the sea, causing great environmental and economic devastation on the island of Guimaras. This island, having been known as one of the first rater tourist spots in the country becomes an atmosphere in the black stream.

No whale sharks for now. It will take more or less 20 years more for the island's restoration. This issue is not only limited to the island itself but also to the actual losers of the disaster, the residents and the fisher folks. From having a nice catch of aquatic resources as the primal source of their livelihood and their means of survival, to just hopelessly seeing the dead marine species is really an intricate struggle to live with. Taking into account the widely practiced subsistence economy, residents are forced to find their catch, this time, above water.

Living differently. The spill has polluted vast quarter of the island, distressed many families, and created an evident stain that will last for at most two decades. Recovery is easier said than done. The sad story left behind is that the efforts and procedures exerted by the government as well as the companies responsible in the stoppage of the spill are leisurely done -- is this because they are not the ones who are directly affected? They do not address the resident's truest needs. Yes, the burden of what had transpired should not be laid on wrong shoulders. Nevertheless, the fisher folk continues to sincerely cooperate to attain greater improvement for its cause. Government's mitigation procedures seem not to rhyme with the actual requirements of the island and of the people therein. On the one hand, the corporation's efforts (to include its CSER) are rendered inadequately.

Recidivist? It is not only now that we are talking about marine disasters. Various incidents such as the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars, Dona Paz, among others are concrete pieces of  evidence that there is a need to pursue maritime regulations, or in simple terms, the laws/legislations regulating over-all sea transportation and other related activities. These shall extend from the very basic completion of requirements before sailing for vessel/transportation/cargo ships (i.e. vests, wear and tear of the ship, knowledge + experience of ship authorities on board, facilities, emergency plans, back-ups, correspondence with the weather/meteorological bureau, among others) up to high penalties to even the risk of taking lives versus the adherence to the rules to ensure safe trips.

September this year, The Department of Agriculture implemented P17.8-million worth of livelihood projects for 3,800 residents of Guimaras affected by the oil spill. Environmentalists are asking, why only now?.

*Title Story from Philippine Free Press.


broken damsel said...

In these disasters, time is really important. Naging papetikspetiks ang gobyerno sa pgka2taong tp. Oo, marami rin ang kailangang tugunan... ano bang ginagawa ng local government nila??? para san pa yan kung ganun lang den

hugo gonzales said...

Yes, why only now. I agree with your analysis that there should be legislations pertaining to maritime transportation. Much incidents and testimonials themselves. Let us spare Guimaras.

pinoy tektek said...

I agree with the government's procedures, however too late the hero!

Railey! said...

Ang isyung ito ay hindi lamang ngayon dapat pag-usapan. Sa katunayan, matapos ang paglubog ng M/V Princess of the Stars, diba pinagpyestehan ng media yan at ng iba pang usapin. Ngayon, nasaan na? namatay na naman ang isyu! kulang na kulang ang gingawa ng pamahalaang ito. Dpat mabigyang pansin ng DOTC at ng Marina ang mga bagay na ito, ngayon at hindi pag may nangyaring masama.