Oil leak slowed down, CG says-A A +A
Sunday, August 25, 2013
THE oil leak from the wreck of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas has decreased by 90 percent, reported Philippine Coast Guard Cebu Station Commander Weniel Azcuna, based on an update from Malayan Towage.
As of yesterday, eight days since the Aquinas collided with the Sulpicio Express Siete off the Talisay City coast, seven holes have been plugged by the company.
This news, raised during a Cebu City Government-initiated command conference yesterday, prompted Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to order an indefinite suspension to the hair-cutting and donation.
“The (need for the) hair boom is no longer as compelling as it used to be with this news that the leak has been decreased by 90 percent,” said Rama.
Also yesterday, the Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay sent Madolin Abuan and Vicky Palma to Cebu City to distribute P3,000 each as burial assistance to the families of those who died in the accident.
That number went up to 81 yesterday. (See related story, A4.)
Unfortunately, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has identified only three families—those of Carolina Alaba, Anita and Domingo Anonat, and Jabines Teogenes.
Abuan said that the main consideration is that the body has been identified. She was expecting 53 beneficiaries, but most of them already went home to their provinces.
There were a number of survivors and their families who went to the Cebu City Hall yesterday during the scheduled distribution of financial assistance.
It was a miscommunication, said DSWD.
Mayor Rama had to explain to the families that only kin of casualties whose bodies have been identified can claim the burial assistance.
The families said they understood.
The Philippine National Police Regional Crime Laboratory’s Chief Insp. Benjamin Lara said in the command conference that the police wants to “level the expectations” of the families.
He said the identification of bodies through DNA tests may take a year.
Lara explained that the laboratory had to take DNA swabs from the cadavers and swabs from relatives. These specimens will then undergo testing.
With “the number of relatives coupled with the number of bodies still unidentified, this can take over a year,” said Lara.
According to his records, there are 23 bodies and three body parts that have yet to be identified.
At least two bodies have been identified through dental records brought by their families.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2013.