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Oil spill threatens fishing in Masbate

Fishermen's alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) has warned that the oil spill in Lapuz, Iloilo City, might reach the Guimaras Strait and Visayan Sea due to water current and wind going north.

"If not contained urgently, the spilled oil could be pushed across the waters by wind and currents and reach the major fishing grounds, which are the Guimaras Strait and Visayan Sea affecting fishers from Guimaras Island, Negros Occidental, Masbate, and Eastern and Western Visayas," the fisherfolk group said.

Last Friday, July 4, some 40,000 liters of bunker fuel spilled into the waters of Lapuz, Iloilo City after an explosion of a power barge owned by AC Energy, the power arm of Ayala Corporation.

PAMALAKAYA called for a speedy government response on the oil spill and rehabilitation of the affected coastal resources and families displaced by the accident.

"We call on the concerned government agencies to implement urgent measures to contain the oil spill and prevent it from spreading across the major fishing grounds in Visayas. Oil spill poses serious injury and loss of life and/or irreversible water contamination of surface, ground, coastal, and marine waters," said Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson.

"We don't want the repeat of the Guimaras oil spill that did not only literally painted the waters black, but devastated the marine environment and economic lives of thousands of fisherfolk," Hicap said, referring to the Guimaras oil spill that occurred in 2006, and is considered as the "worst oil spill in the history of Philippines".

Lastly, PAMALAKAYA said that Ayala's AC Energy should be made to pay compensatory damages and shoulder the cleanup cost of the massive oil slick.

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