Press Release
August 28, 2006


Senate President Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, is proposing the inclusion of P1 to P2 billion in the budget to fund the rehabilitation of Guimaras to mitigate the ill effects of the August-11 oil spill that hit the island-province.

"There are still a lot of things to be done in order to at least contain the damage caused by the oil spill. The priority should be in cleaning up the affected areas, plug the leakage in the still sunken vessel and provide alternate sources of livelihood to the people of Guimaras," says Villar.

Villar adds, "On the part of the National Government, we should provide funds particularly for helping the affected residents or communities in Guimaras and nearby areas get back on their feet, especially the fishermen who have lost their primary source of livelihood because of the oil spill."

The oil spill from the Petron-chartered tanker MT Solar 1 has so far affected some 300 kilometers (187 miles) of coastline, 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of mangroves and 60 hectares (148 acres) of seaweed plantations, and at least 26,000 villagers in Guimaras.

According to Villar, "We should also keep a close watch on the MT Solar 1 which up to now is still leaking oil. Only 10 to 15 per cent of the oil in the vessel has leaked and yet the damage is already tremendous. The sooner the sunken vessel is lifted out of the sea or its leak is plugged at least, the better." MT Solar I is reported to be transporting two million liters of bunker fuel, when it sank, it spurted reportedly more than 200,000 liters of oil off Guimaras island. The Japanese salvage vessel which is commissioned to suck out the remaining 1.8 million liters of oil in the sunken vessel was initially scheduled to arrive on Thursday but was delayed by bad weather and will arrive Tuesday or Wednesday instead.

"I have seen for myself the extent of damage of the oil spill in the environment particularly marine resources of Guimaras. The residents there are also devastated because they have lost their primary source of livelihood. Time is of the essence in rehabilitating Guimaras, its environment and its people," cites Villar.

Villar conducted an ocular inspection of the affected areas in Guimaras on August 25.

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