Press Release
August 22, 2006


Files resolution to conduct inquiry and will do ocular inspection

Expressing alarm over the extent of damage of the recent oil spill off Guimaras island, Senate President Manny Villar is calling for stricter measures to adequately protect the rich marine reserves of the country from being exposed to future risks or wreckage.

Villar cites, "It is alarming to learn that marine life and resources in Guimaras are already badly affected by the oil spill and that the clean-up of the oil spill will take anywhere from six months to one year and that's just a conservative estimate. The extent of damage brought about by the oil spill is really far-reaching and long-term."

"If we factor in the loss of livelihood opportunities to the families in the communities surrounding the island-province of Guimaras, the damage becomes even more extensive. The fishermen there have no source of livelihood anymore," adds Villar.

According to preliminary assessment reports, the oil spill has damaged some 300 kilometers (187 miles) of coastline, 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of mangroves and 60 hectares (148 acres) of seaweed plantations, affecting at least 26,000 villagers in Guimaras.

Villar, who is set to visit Guimaras to assess the extent of damage himself, has also filed a Senate Resolution asking the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to conduct an inquiry on the oil spill in Guimaras and to recommend measures to prevent occurrence of similar incidents.

"I am also saddened by what happened in Guimaras because it is home to many of my kasimanwas or fellow Ilonggos. Furthermore, it is well known for its world-class and pristine beaches as well as marine reserves. It will be such a waste if the oil spill will destroy the island's rich marine resources," says Villar.

Villar has earlier filed Senate Bill 732 or the Coral Reefs Protection and Preservation Act which seeks for the creation of reservation areas for the preservation and protection of the coral reefs. Villar also supports the campaign of the tourism sector to develop more dive sites or resorts in the country to further boost tourist arrivals.

Villar's bill seeks the creation of a National and Regional Council for the Preservation of the Coral Reefs. The following acts will also be prohibited: destruction of the coral reefs; harvesting of coral reefs; illegal fishing activities prejudicial to the preservation of the coral reefs; dumping of mine tailings and other industrial wastes; and other acts or activities which will result in the destruction of the reserved areas.

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