AN OFFICIAL of the shipping company that serves the Hagnaya-Sta. Fe, Bantayan route dismissed the allegation that its vessels disposed of wastes into the sea.
Island Shipping Corp. president Alexander Tan described the allegation as “unfounded, erroneous, baseless and defamatory.”
A report filed by the Sta. Fe Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (Menro) revealed that human wastes found in the sea off the town’s beaches came from the vessels of Island Shipping and another company. The Menro reportedly inspected the vessels and found that they did not have septic tanks.
But Tan told Sun.Star Cebu in a June 9 letter that Island Shipping vessels were granted ship sanitation control certificates by the Bureau of Quarantine of the Department of Health.
Tan furnished Sun.Star Cebu copies of the Bureau of Quarantine ship sanitation control certificates of LCT Island III, LCT Island II, MV Island Express V and MV Island Express III. The certificates state that “no evidence of infection or contamination” was found on the vessels.
The certificate for LCT Island III is valid until July 15 this year, while that of the other vessels are valid until October.
Tan said that vessels could not have generated the same volume of human wastes as those found in the waters off Sta. Fe.
“How much waste do vessels generate in a one-hour-10-minute ferry service with available toilets in the terminals or origin and destination?” Tan asked.
He said that Island Shipping adheres to environmental standards and regulations.
“All ships of Island Shipping Corp. have sewage tanks which are verifiable by the proper authorities upon a sanctioned inspection,” Tan said.
He said that the statement of Capt. Medel Gomez admitting the absence of sewage tanks is “inaccurate and invalid.” He said that Gomez does not speak for Island Shipping management.
Tan said that the wastes found off Sta. Fe’s coast may be the result of the town’s sanitation issues.
He said that while Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana blamed the shipping companies, Vice Mayor Celso Espinosa admitted that town residents who not have bathrooms and septic tanks may have caused the contamination.
“Why should the consequences of Mayor Esgana's inaction on the issue raised by his vice mayor be blamed on us?” Tan asked.
He said that Esgana's accusation does not only harm the shipping companies, but also threatens the tourism industry in the entire Bantayan.
Environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. has urged the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate the source of the wastes.
Oposa pointed out that the waters between Hagnaya, San Remigio in mainland Cebu and Bantayan Island are part of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape.