By Sugar Hicap
Manila, Philippines-The alleged plan of Department of Energy (DoE) secretary Angelo Reyes to lead a transport party list group in the May 2010 elections literally and figuratively raised the eyebrows of leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday.
In a joint statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France said if there was truth to report that incumbent 1-UTAK party list agreed to have Sec. Reyes as its first nominee, and then a first-rate murder and political prostitution of the party list system was again committed by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
“Imagine, Sec. Reyes, the undisputed puppet of oil cartel and no.1 employee of offshore mining companies in the country is the no.1 nominee of a party list group which describes as sectoral party list group that caters to the interest of the marginalized and the oppressed. God this is imaginable and mind-boggling,” the two leaders said in their joint statement.
Hicap and France said the information was fed to them by ally transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON). The two Pamalakaya officials said the militant transport group shared to them the information circulating in the transport sector that Sec. Reyes planned to run as no.1 nominee of the administration backed 1-UTAK party list, displacing former first nominee and incumbent Rep. Atty. Vigor Mendoza.
The Pamalakaya leaders agreed with PISTON that Sec. Reyes bid for party list bid has something to do with the plan of Mrs. Arroyo to clinch the post of House Speaker in the May 2010 elections. They said President Arroyo is saturating the House of Representatives with Palace commissioned party lists to ensure the Arroyos would still dominate the lower House under the new elected President.
“This 1-UTAK party list is really a very, very mysterious party list in the tradition of mafia and syndicate. First its incumbent congressman is a corporate lawyer, now it wants a former military general and top coddler of oil cartel to represent poor drivers in Congress. This super roadshow treachery of the party list system must be further expose and oppose with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo receiving the largest share of blame and wholesale condemnation,” the Pamalakaya leaders added.
Aside from being a reliable puppet of the oil cartel and a certified militarist and human rights violator, Pamalakaya said Sec. Reyes was also responsible for the mushrooming of destructive oil and gas explorations in Philippine territorial waters.
The group said the latest offshore based crime of Reyes was the approval of the oil and gas exploration in Palawan, near the Kalayaan group of islands.
Pamalakaya said the energy secretary pushed for the approval of Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract (GSEC) No.101 also known as Sercice Contract no.72 (SC72) and awarded the contract UK firm Forum Energy Plc. The exploration contract grants the London-based oil and gas company the right to conduct offshore mining that covers 880,000 hectares of marine waters located in the Red Bank basin in Palawan or 150 kilometers east of Spratlys group of islands.
“The no.1 nominee of 1-UTAK party list worked hard for a project that would lead us to a major environmental catastrophe. Look, a total of 880,000 hectares of marine waters were sacrificed by Sec. Reyes to uphold the extreme greed of powerful corporations for super profits at the expense of national patrimony, people’s rights to livelihood, and sound and sustainable environment,” the group lamented.
“The shameless and brainless party list behind Reyes bid for party list congressional seat is unpardonable. This is an across-the-nation insult to the collective intelligence of the Filipino people and the voting public,” added Pamalakaya.
Pamalakaya said the offshore mining activity might result to huge decline in the production of fishes and other marine products in the country. Hicap said offshore mining in the Visayan Sea and Palawan alone could lead to decline of year fish production by 600,000 metric tons or 20 percent decline annually, and it would affect the livelihood of not less than 100,000 fisherfolk and the 500,000 people largely dependent on fishing as means of livelihood.
Forum Energy said the service contract they obtained from DoE is within 200 nautical miles of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) based on Republic Act 9522, or the Philippine Archipelagic Baseline Law passed by Congress last year.
Citing the impacts of oil and gas exploration of Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) in Tanon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros, Pamalakaya said fish catch was drastically reduced by 67 to 75 percent from a high of 15-20 kilos average catch per day to 3-5 kilos of fish per day due to offshore mining.
The militant group also cited previous studies on the effect of offshore mining which said that an oil exploration activity generates 214,000 pounds of air pollution every year, 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide and 6 tons of sulfur dioxide and 5 tons of volatile organic hydrocarbons.
Pamalakaya said drilling operations could produce 1,500 metric tons to 2,000 metric tons of highly toxic water waste materials per drilling. The group said other toxic materials which oil and gas exploration could produce include cadmium which causes lung cancer, lead which causes gastrointestinal diseases, blood and kidney disorders, mental retardation and affects the nervous system, chromium which causes lung and liver cancers, kidney and other respiratory illnesses, and arsenic which causes lung, liver and skin cancers. #