Rosario mayor files cease and desist order vs Petron

Mayor Ricafrente says Petron's pipelines are no longer safe. Governor Remulla says leak could have been a result of 'negligence, sabotage, or force majeure.'

NO LONGER SAFE. The underwater transfer of oil to the Petron oil depot in Rosario, Cavite poses risks to residents, says the mayor of Rosario. Photo from EPA

MANILA, Philippines – The mayor of the Cavite town most affected by the Manila Bay oil spill filed on Tuesday, August 13, a cease-and-desist order against the Petron oil depot responsible for the leak.

Rosario Mayor Jose Ricafrente told Rappler that he filed the order at 8 am on Tuesday, a day after the Philippine Coast Guard confirmed that a submerged pipeline leading to the oil depot was the source of 500,000 liters of oil that leaked into Manila Bay on August 8.

Petron took responsibility for the oil spill. In a statement made by Petron president Lubin Nepomuceno on August 12, the company vowed to clean up the slick and help the affected fishermen.

Ricafrente said he decided to file for a cease-and-desist order because Petron’s oil depot, located in his town, “is no longer safe.”

He clarified, however, that he is not against the presence of the oil depot in his town. He only wants Petron to change their operations in transferring oil. Instead of using submarine pipelines that put fisherfolk and their livelihood at risk, he wants the oil to be transferred by land.

Pwedeng gumamit ng truck o kahit barge galing Bataan. Basta mag-comply sila sa mga hinihingi namin, p’wede nilang ituloy ‘yung operations nila,” he said. (They can use trucks or even barges coming from Bataan. As long as they comply with what we’re asking for, they can continue their operations.)

There are two submerged pipelines transferring oil from tankers to the oil depot. Similar leaks from these pipelines were reported in December 2011 and July 2010, adversely affecting the thousands of fisherfolk living in coastal villages in the towns of Rosario, Naic, and Tanza in Cavite. 

Rehab efforts

But Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla is not as quick to pass judgment.

Asked if he supports the cease-and-desist order filed by Ricafrente, he said: “I don’t know enough [about the circumstances]. We don’t know if it’s negligence, sabotage, or force majeure. We can’t be knee-jerk about this.”

But he is satisfied with Petron’s cleanup and rehabilitation efforts.

“Today they were very active. They’re already spraying bioremediators along the shoreline. They’re providing protective equipment for the residents,” Remulla said.

Bioremediators are microorganisms that remove pollutants from contaminated water.

He also said that Petron is consulting with fisherfolk on the amount of money to compensate them for the effect of the oil spill on their livelihood. The compensations will supposedly be given out starting August 16.

Remulla previously downplayed the extent of the oil spill, saying only 90,000 liters of oil was leaked instead of 500,000 liters as reported by PCG. He also claimed there was no fish kill. – 

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