Cordova seeks P127-M payment for oil spill

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


CEBU CITY –- Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy asked two shipping companies on Tuesday to pay the town P126.85 million for the damage done to its mangroves and fishing communities after a collision at sea.

Nearly six months after the collision, Mayor Sitoy declared the extent of the damage caused by oil that spilled from one of the vessels, which sank.

He sent the demand letters to the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC) and 2Go Group Inc. To these, he attached two letters from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Central Visayas Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo

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Last August 16, 2013, the St. Thomas de Aquinas passenger ship and Sulpicio Express 7 cargo ship collided in Lawis Ledge off Talisay City. It killed more than a hundred persons and caused an oil spill that affected Mactan Island, where Cordova town is located.

At least 750 persons survived.

The Aquinas, which eventually sank, belonged to 2Go while the Sulpicio Express 7 belonged to PSACC.

Sitoy said the collision had caused damage to his town’s fishing industry, affecting its fishers, fish vendors, mangroves and livelihood projects.

“A big oil spill occurred, hitting mostly the fishing grounds of Cordova and incapacitating our fisherfolk from harvesting sea products for some time and unduly depriving them of their usual means of livelihood, and also considerably crippling their day to day trading of marine products on which a good number of Cordovanhons depend,” Sitoy wrote in his letter.

The letter was delivered Tuesday, nearly six months after the collision. The mayor addressed it to three persons: Francis Chua, chairman of the board of the 2GO Group Inc.; Enrique Go, chairman of PSACC; and Pioneer insurance and Surety Corp.

PSACC and Pioneer’s letters were received on Tuesday.

30 days to pay

Mayor Sitoy gave them 30 days, upon receipt of the letter, to pay the amount.

“Your failure to comply herewith would mean our resort to legal remedies, judicial and/or administrative,” the mayor stated.

Sitoy, in his letter, itemized the damage the oil spill allegedly caused. He said that groups of fishers in 13 barangays lost their daily income of P350 each for 60 days, or about P78,645,000 total.

Fish vendors’ associations in the town’s five public markets also lost the same amount each day for 60 days, for a total of P5,124,000.

Livelihood projects of the People’s Organization of Cordova were damaged by an estimated P1,381,622.83.

The mayor’s letter said these three sectors suffered damage that amounted to P85,150,622.83 total, as a result of the spill.

This, plus Montejo’s estimate that the damage to the mangroves amounted to P41,704,600, added up to P126,855,222.83.

Council’s backing

The Cordova Municipal Council also passed a resolution last February 10 authorizing the mayor “to file a claim on behalf of the Municipality of Cordova over the marine proceeds derived from the protection and indemnity insurance coverage collectible from Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corp. in connection with the oil spill that greatly damaged the municipality of Cordova.”

Sun.Star Cebu called up the PSACCC but security guard and radio operator Jay Geligan and Allan Romare, respectively, said that Chairman Go had left the office and could not be reached.

In previous interviews, a PSACC official was quoted as saying that the company had assisted in the search and rescue operations right after the collision.

For his part, Angelito Salvio, 2Go Group Inc. vice president for shipping, said in a text message: “We have not received any communication regarding the Cordova claim.”

Last October 5, Salvio stated that the company had spent at least P55 million at that point to address the oil spill.

Eric Du of Pioneer, who reportedly received Sitoy’s letter on Tuesday, was already out of the office when Sun.Star called him up to seek his comment. (OCP/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2014.

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