Press Release
September 17, 2006


Citing the P2-billion allocation for the Guimaras oil spill cleanup in the 2006 Supplemental Budget, Senator Edgardo J. Angara today sought assurance that government will claim reimbursement from Petron Corporation and its shipper for the costly cleanup.

"Government is only advancing it now because the clean-up is urgent and the provision for rebuilding the town's livelihood cannot wait. The reason the Senate agreed on an emergency fund is because of the urgency of the matter, but Petron and its shipper should ultimately shoulder all liability," he said.

Angara recalled that during the Senate Committee hearing on the Guimaras oil spill, Petron as well as the sunken vessel's owner have categorically assured they will cover all the liabilities and expenses in rebuilding the livelihood of Guimaras fishermen as well as the damage to the corals and mangroves that rim the island and the coastal towns of Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

"Sure we can ask our taxpayers to shoulder it now, so as to work promptly or quickly. But in the end, it's not the taxpayers who should shoulder the liability but Petron's US$300-million insurance fund," he continued.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Franklin M. Drilon has also agreed to Angara's suggestion to earmark P50 million for rehabilitating the UP Visayas Taclong Marine Reserve, which was built during Angara's term as UP President and is home to 29 types of hard coral, 144 species of fish, 7 species of sea grass and 3 species of mangroves.

In 2005, Angara authored the Oil Pollution Liability and Compensation Act (OPA) which provides strict liability for oil pollution damage and ensures prompt and adequate compensation for persons who suffer from oil pollution damage.

Angara also authored the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act of 2006 which seeks to preserve, conserve, enrich and protect the nation's historical and cultural heritage, including marine coasts and resources. The bill also entitles the National Museum the authoritative rule to issue permits or licenses before one can undergo exploration or excavation in Philippine waters.

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