Tag Archives: Offshore mining

Obama told to stop Exxon oil hunt in Manila

By Sarsi Pimentel, Pepsi Laloma and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday asked US President Barack Obama to extend his order to suspend all offshore mining activities in American territorial waters to foreign waters like Sulu where ExxonMobil is currently undertaking a $ 110-million oil and gas exploration.

Obama recently suspended all offshore mining activities following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 20 million gallons are now estimated to have leaked since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 and sank, killing 11 workers. Since the spill started, an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude have leaked into the Gulf each day, which environmentalists described as worst environmental disaster in US history.

The massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico prompted US lawmakers to file a bill demanding a permanent ban on all offshore drilling across the United States. At least 6 Democrat senators — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington sponsored the controversial measure.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap advised Obama to also issue an executive order calling ExxonMobil and other US-owned offshore mining companies doing oil and gas explorations abroad to call off explorations following the BP oil spill.

“Mr. Obama can issue an order calling ExxonMobil to back out from its oil and gas expedition off Sulu Sea. The White House current occupant can issue black and white order commanding ExxonMobil to back off from its oil deal with the Philippine government,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said his group was apprehensive of the project’s impact on the livelihoods of fishing communities in Palawan, Western Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula and Sulu archipelago.

Pamalakaya said the Sulu Sea, in the southwest Philippines, connects the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea and is considered to be on the route of tuna and other schools of fish leaving or going to the Pacific Ocean.

The militant group claimed that the approval of the ExxonMobil exploration deal was “just a preview of the forthcoming RP-US Free Trade Agreement, which the incoming presidency of leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy”Aquino III is expected to yield to the Obama administration in recognition of the US top officials support to Aquino before , during and after the May 10 presidential elections.

Pamalakaya theorized ExxonMobil, a major world player, would not go to a country where the potential is not great. The militant group recalled that ExxonMobil officials US oil firm officials led by Stephen Greenlee said the plan to explore for oil and gas in Sulu was a big deal for the company, and that ExxonMobil was encouraged by preliminary seismic data on the potential of oil and gas reserves in the Sulu Sea.

Aside from ExxonMobil, Pamalakaya said Australian mining firm NorAsia was also reportedly set to conduct oil explorations in the Cebu-Bohol Strait, while Dutch-owned Premium Oil will also launch offshore explorations in the Ragay Gulf of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon . #

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Visayan fishers want 12-year old fisheries law repealed

By Sugar Hicap

Cebu City- Fisherfolk groups in the island provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Negros today declare the 12-year old Fisheries Code of 1998 a major disaster, saying the next Congress should prioritize its repeal and replace it a new fisheries law that is progressive and responsive to the demand of the marginal fishermen across-the-country.

Leaders of Bokkana-Bohol, Pamana-Sugbo and Pamalakaya-Negros, the three island wide chapters of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in Central Visayas and Western Visayas said the law enacted during the time of former President Fidel Ramos failed to achieve its goal, which is to empower the Filipino fisherfolk and raise the standard of living of not less than 1.3 million small fishermen and fish workers, and other 8 million people eking their livelihood from fishing and fish culture.

Enacted on Feb.24, 1998, the Fisheries Code replaced Presidential Decree 704 implemented during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos. The post-Martial Law code reserves the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area to small fisherfolk and taps fisherfolk organizations as “Bantay Dagat” to help government enforcers in catching fishermen using dynamite and other forms of illegal fishing and drive away commercial fishing vessels from encroaching the reserved fishing area for marginal fishermen.

However, there are exceptions and loopholes in the law that allows big time commercial fishing vessels to penetrate the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area, if the waters inside the 15-municipal fishing area are 7 fathoms deep. In many cases, commercial fishing companies enter the municipal fishing grounds because of the 7-fathom exception.

“The 1998 fisheries law is either a comprehensive failure or a running nightmare or both. It has done nothing to alleviate the sorry situation of small fishers. The fisheries code is supposed to raise the standard of living of 10 million fishers and their dependents. But look at the fisherfolk now, they are the poorest people all over the country,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Fisheries Code of 1998, which is hyped a protective law failed to stop large-scale destructive fishing, offshore mining in Central Visayas and Negros Island and now the offshore reclamation in Panglao Island, province of Bohol.

Hicap said the Fisheries Code reduced fisherfolk as sidekick law enforcers of the maritime police of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or reserve troops of the Philippine Navy.

The Pamalakaya leader said the 1998 fisheries law effectively limited the scope of fishing from communal practice to zone divided fishing with the implementation of zoning ordinance and color coding that bars fisherfolk from fishing to nearby municipalities or provinces.

Hicap said the 1998 fisheries law also legalized extortion and corruption, with local government officials imposing fees and taxes to small scale fishermen as to use of boats, nets and other fishing gears.

He said the 12-year central law in local fisheries sector also failed to combat global warming, and on the contrary promoted the massive conversion of fishing areas and public lands along coastal and lakeshores into aquaculture hub, industrial zones and eco-tourism spots.

Pamalakaya, its regional and provincial chapters in Central Visayas and Negros Island will lead the drafting of a new fishery law that would be submitted to next Congress for approval.

Tentatively billed as Genuine Fisheries and Aquatic Reform Bill (GFARB), the new fisheries act envisioned by small fisherfolk seeks to nationalize the backward fishing industry, ban all government and private activities that destroy the marine fishing areas like offshore mining and reclamation, and other forms of privatization and conversion of all communal fishing areas and coastal communities.

The GFARB will immediately reserve the exclusive use of 15-km municipal fishing ground to small fisherfolk, stop massive fish importation activities, distribute existing corporate fishponds to fishermen associations and organizations, and ensure production subsidies to poor fisherfolk.

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Energy chief’s plan to lead party list charge raised eyebrows of militant group

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. #

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Fishers group warns environmental catastrophe on UK oil and gas hunt near Spratly islands

By Ridley McHammer in London, United Kingdom and Gerry Albert Corpuz and Queen Shawn Dok in Manila

Fisherfolk activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday warned the Department of Energy (DoE) of a major environmental catastrophe in Palawan and neighbor Spratly islands once it allows the United Kingdom oil and gas exploration group to proceed off the waters of Palawan province near the disputed Kalayaan group of islands.

In a press statement Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged energy secretary Angelo Reyes to immediately cancel Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract (GSEC) No.101 also known as Sercice Contract no.72 (SC72) was awarded to 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 project is heading us to a major environmental catastrophe in the making. Imagine 880,000 hectares of marine waters will be sacrificed anew for this extreme greed of powerful corporations for super profits at the expense of national patrimony, people’s rights to livelihood, and sound and sustainable environment,” Hicap lamented.

The Pamalakaya leader 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.

In a fact finding mission conducted two years ago, Pamalakaya said fish skills occurred in several barangays in Cebu and Negros during and after the seismic surveys. 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.

This is not the first time oil and gas exploration activity will be conducted in Reed Bank. The bank has been subject of numerous exploration hunts in the past under the Philippine contractual regime and Presidential Decree 87. The first petroleum contract in the area was awarded by the then Ministry of Energy in 1975.

Forum Energy holds a 70-percent stake in GSEC 101, which is the company’s principal asset, while Monte Oro Resources & Energy Inc. owns the rest. The government initially awarded GSEC 101 to Sterling Energy Plc in June 2002. Sterling drilled four wells at the southwest end of the structure. Two of the wells tested gas at rates of 3.6 million cubic feet and 3.2 million cubic feet per day, respectively. With reports from Akihira Tatchu

Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod had authored a resolution seeking an investigation on impacts of offshore mining in Visayan Sea

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Only 3 presidential bets take up fishers’ issues—says group

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines-

A boy presented a relief stub during Pamalakaya and Anakpawis' relief operations in Talim Island, Rizal

Leftwing activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday said of the 9 presidential candidates, only three—Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manny Villar, independent candidate Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilberto Teodoro have taken up the issues raised by small fisherfolk.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Villar was more interested in providing production subsidies and relief to small fisherfolk hit by rising prices of petroleum products and seasonal disaster, Madrigal focused on the particular fight against the privatization and conversion of Manila Bay and offshore mining in the high seas, while Teodoro offered his help to fast track the cleanup of Manila Bay in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling and the pursuance of Philippine claim to the controversial Spratly Island.

“The rest of presidential wannabes have yet to issue any official policy statement how they would solve the multifaceted problems in Philippine fisheries, while the 3 presidential candidates need to concretize and be more comprehensive in addressing the sorry state of Filipino fisherfolk and the fisheries environment,” the Pamalakaya leader noted.

Hicap said his group wants to hear from Villar, Madrigal and Teodoro, while at the same time strongly encourages the rest of the presidential candidates—Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, Partido ng Masang Pilipino standard bearer former President Joseph Estrada, independent bets Richard Gordon, Nicanor Perlas, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas Movement and JC de los Reyes of the Kapatiran party.

Salvador France, Pamalakaya national vice-chair for his part, his group will stage the 2nd staging of Pamalakaya Fisherfolk Academy (PFA) next month, a presidential forum which aims to gather all presidential and vice presidential candidates in the May 2010 polls.

The forum which was first organized in the May 2007 elections for senatorial candidates, will ask all presidential candidates their respective stand and views on the fisherfolk electoral agenda which will be presented in the half-day forum.

The Pamalakaya official said among the doable demands their group will present to presidential candidates is the immediate and unconditional halt on all reclamation and conversion projects in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, an indefinite freeze to demolition plans of fishing and urban poor communities along Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and other foreshore land areas across-the-country, the immediate recall of all offshore mining projects in Central and Western Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan seas, Northern Luzon and Bicol regions.

France said, Pamalakaya will also ask the presidential and vice-presidential candidates their position on proposals to abrogate the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and the repeal of the Fisheries Code of 1998 and the approval of production subsidy law for fisheries that provide financial and material support to small fisherfolk to improve production and their standard of living.

Pamalakaya will also ask the commitment of presidential and vice presidential candidates that if they win, they will investigate highly questionable contracts and projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) including but not limited to the overpriced P 455 million ice making machine and the
P 7.14 billion agriculture funds which were missing according to the findings of the Commission on Audit dated December 2008.

Quoting the COA 2008 report, the Pamalakaya leader said a total of P 5.19 billion intended for farm-to-market road project were either missing or incomplete. France said the DA only spent P 1.3 billion or 38.99 percent of the total project allotment for 2008. Another big item, the P 1.3 billion fertilizer fund project under the GMA Rice Program was also bungled because local government units refused to participate in the implementation.

“The projects were reportedly incomplete. So the next question is where are the unspent funds? Are they really missing? Were they diverted or juggled to other highly questionable projects? What happen to the farm-to-market road project? Did it become farm to pocket (of GMA allies) road project?” asked
France.

Pamalakaya also took note COA’s other findings like printing of P 2.2 million fertilizer discount coupons which were rendered useless, the construction of mini-dams in Regions VIII, IX and XI built at a cost of
P 7.35 million but were rendered useless due to inferior construction, the construction of 11 Barangay Food Terminals worth P 1.55 million but only one was functional, and the remaining 10 were condemned due to operational deficiencies.

The same COA report described DA as notorious in purchasing equipment which are overpriced, not really needed or cannot be utilized or run by intended beneficiaries, adding that many of the equipment bought are unutilized, undelivered and now rusting in storage.

Pamalakaya said the earth shaking COA report should stop the national government and the agriculture department from buying 300 new ice-making machines to the amount of P 1.5 billion on top of the 98 ice-making machines which DA purchased in 2009 at an overpriced rate of P 4.6 million, 100 percent more of the prevailing industry price. #

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Militant group to avail CJ Puno’s “writ of nature”

By Kaka Esteban and Mama Mila Liguasan

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said it will avail the writ of “kalikasan” (nature) which will be promulgated by the Supreme Court before Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires on May 17.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the writ of kalikasan which is authored by the Chief Justice will be tested on various environmental cases which his group will file against the Macapagal-Arroyo government and its private clients pertaining to anti-people and anti-environment development projects in Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, offshore mining projects in Palawan, Cebu-Bohol Strait and Lingayen Gulf and offshore reclamation in Panglao, island province of Bohol.

Pamalakaya is confronting the issue of anti-fisherfolk and anti-environment state projects in Manila Bay particularly the reclamation of not less than 12,000 hectares of coastal areas along Bacoor Bay, which the government intends to develop as R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the rehabilitation and expansion of Sangley Point as an international shipping port in Southern Tagalog region.

The militant group is also opposed to various eco-tourism projects in Laguna Lake, including the grand plan of Manila Water and Maynilad to source potable water from the 90,000 hectare lake. Pamalakaya is also against the reclamation of not less than 10,000 hectares of lake shores in Laguna Lake.

Pamalakaya will also bring to court the controversial 465 hectare offshore reclamation in Panglao island in Bohol, and the oil and gas explorations in Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Lingayen Gulf provinces– Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

“We will explore this writ of nature to defend our rights to livelihood and sound environment. But the main fight for social justice will be decided in the battlefield as provided by the parliament of the street and the court of public opinion,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap appealed to Puno to rush the finalization of the writ of nature, saying fishers group like Pamalakaya and other environmental advocacy groups have been waiting for said writ since 2008, when the idea was first brought during the high tribunal’s consultations with grassroots organizations and advocacy groups.

“However, we welcome this development. We hope the writ of nature will not become a toothless tiger and will be of big use to people defending their livelihood and rights to healthy ecology,” added Pamalakaya.

Puno announced on Saturday that he wants the high court to finalize rules that will institute the writ of ‘kalikasan’ (nature) before he retires in May, saying that this new legal remedy would lead to a better implementation of the country’s environmental laws.

The Chief Justice announced the SC committee on the revision of the Rules of Court, which he chairs, is set to promulgate the rule governing the issuance of the writ of ‘kalikasan’—an order that a court can issue to protect a person’s right to a healthy environment—in one or two months.

Puno described the writ of ‘kalikasan’ as a “most effective” means to ensure that the Filipinos’ constitutional right to “balance and healthful ecology” is realized.

The soon to retire Chief Justice said the new writ aims to encourage more citizens to file suits involving violations of the country’s environmental laws, and to solve the problem of delays on the disposition of pending environmental cases, which have now reached 3,000.

In January 2008, the high tribunal approved the creation of 117 environmental courts—also called the “green courts” to expedite the resolution of all pending environmental cases. The writ of ‘kalikasan’ can solve the overclogging of these courts.

Police conducting checkpoints in broad daylight as encountered by the recent Lakbayan

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Fishers group asks Japanese gov’t to rehab Tañon S

Fishers group asks Japanese gov’t to rehab Tañon Strait

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday asked the Japanese government to undertake the rehabilitation of Tañon Strait, a protected seascape, which was drilled by a Japanese oil and exploration group for potential oil and gas deposists in 2005.

The militant group said the Japanese government is obliged to carry out the rehabilition, after the offshore mining group Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex)left the country on June last year.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the Japanese government should immediately set aside some P 20-billion fund for the environmental repair and economic rehabilitation of the protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros, which he said was extremely devastated by the three-year offshore mining activities of the Japanese oil and gas firm.

“The Philippine government must push the Japanese government or Japex to pay for what they destroyed during the aggressive and destructive search for oil and gas deposits in Tañon Strait. The P 20-billion rehabilitation fund is just a near approximation of what Japex destroyed. It could be more, but what is important is that they have to pay for the crimes against the environment and the fishing people,” Hicap asserted.

On May 13, 2008, Japex mother company announced that Japex Philippines Ltd. had decided to relinquish its service contract effective June 20 last year because of the lack of commercial oil and gas discovery as a result of exploration work, including drilling of one exploration well.

Japex Philippines, the subsidiary of the Tokyo based Japex Ltd was established on May 26, 2006 to supervise the oil and gas exploration in Tañon Strait with a paid up capital of 2.9 billion yen.

According to Service Contract No. 46, which was awarded to Japex, the Japanese oil and gas hunt company will lead the gas and oil search with 65 percent participating interest, while the Philippine government through Kufpec Philippines, a unit of Kuwait’s state oil company, will have a 35 percent participating interest that will entail 2,500 square kilometer of Tañon Strait waters.

“The issue here is not money, but truth, justice and accountability and the appropriate and just demand for just compensation. The P 20-billion fund will serve as seed fund for all rehabilitation efforts, including the economic and production needs of affected fisherfolk and coastal people,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Pamalakaya proposed a cooperation body in the form of Task Force Tañon Strait Rehabilitation to manage and implement the rehabilitation works. The group aside from fisherfolk organizations, non-government organizations and representatives of affected coastal municipalities in Cebu and Negros Occidental, church, academic and environmental advocates should also be included in the independent task force.

Meanwhile, Pamana-Sugbo, the provincial chapter of Pamalakaya in Cebu revealed that United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right food is looking into the impact of offshore mining in Tañon Strait to the coastal people and fishing communities covered by the previous oil hunt in Central Visayas.

Pamana-Sugbo chair Victor Lapaz said UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Mr. Olivier de Schutter acknowledged the receipt of several information on the oil and gas exploration project in Tañon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Bohol, and expressed his interest to know more about the situation, including the increasing presence of government troops and the actions taken by the Supreme Court on the cases filed by the affected fishermen.

In his two-page email addressed to Mr. Vince Cinches, executive director of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC), a support non-government organization (NGO) working with Pamalakaya and the affected communities due to offshore mining in Tañon Strait and other parts of Central Visayas, de Schutter said after examination of the initial report of Pamalakaya and FIDEC, he wants to know more about the Philippine army getting involved in stopping the demonstrations against the offshore mining.

“Some reports mentioned that the army has been deployed in some areas to prevent local leaders from disturbing ongoing exploratory operations. Could you please give us more details on this situation?” the UN special rapporteur on the right to food asked.

“Has the army intervened in some demonstrations and then left, or is the army permanently deployed to prevent access by fishermen? Can you provide details of a few instances where this happened, including the names localities, dates etc?” de Schutter added.

According to Lapaz , the UN Special Rapporteur on the right food also want to know the Supreme Court action on the cases filed by his group, Pamalakaya, FIDEC, the affected communities and environmentalist groups against the offshore mining in Tañon Strait conducted by Japan Petroleum Exploration Ltd. (Japex) since 2005.

“The UN special rapporteur on the right to food is interested on how the high tribunal acted on several petitions filed by affected communities and their supporters before the Supreme Court. It seems the UN engagement will depend on the high court will take this issue. If the court decides in favor of the national government and Japex, then that will be time the UN will intervene because the legal remedy at the domestic arena is already exhausted,” Lapaz added.

Pamalakaya said the next offshore mining battle will be in Cebu-Bohol Strait, where the Australian firm NorAsia is expected to start its oil and gas exploration in August this year. The group had already written Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to persuade the’ offshore mining company—NorAsia Energy Limited to back off from oil and gas exploration deal with the Philippine government in the Cebu-Bohol Strait.

Pamalakaya said it will ask de Schutter to also investigate the offshore exploration and mining of NorAsia on the 445,000 hectares of marine waters over a 7-year period based on the agreement signed by NorAsia and its Filipino partner-the TransAsia Oil and Energy Development Corporation. The agreement was sanctioned by the Department of Energy.

In 2007, NorAsia acquired 146 square kilometers of 3D seismic data over two prospects in Service Contract 51. It said Area 8 of Service Contract 69 offers significant follow-up potential in additional structures if initial drilling in Service Contract 512 is successful.

NorAsia said Service Contract 69 has approximately 3,000 kilometers of existing 2D seismic and an active petroleum system as shown by the abundant onshore oil seeps and seismic-supported direct hydrocarbon indicators in the area.#

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