ENVIRONMENTALISTS are bringing to four Visayas governors their plea against preparations for an oil exploration.
Lawyers Gloria Estenzo-Ramos and Benjamin Cabrido oppose the seismic survey in the Visayan seas that may lead to an oil exploration, just as it did in the Tañon Strait in 2007.
They referred to two offshore areas, stretching 865 kilometers, that Nor Asian Energy Limited has been authorized to conduct the survey in.
The lawyers addressed their appeal to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla and Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado.
They asked for an answer within five days as to the chief executives’ stand on the seismic survey.
The 1987 Constitution guards the people’s right to a balanced and healthy ecology and the protection of the rights of fishers.
“The Fisheries Code implements this constitutional mandate by ensuring that the municipal waters are for the preferential use of subsistence fisherfolk, excluding commercial fishing vessels,” read the letter.
They argued the Department of Energy (DOE), “in conspiracy with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” is defying the law by allowing oil and gas explorations by foreign-owned corporations.
The Philippine Energy Plan 2009-2030 admits as one of the challenges the lack of “social acceptability” for petroleum exploration projects. It also points to the need for environmental standards for such operations.
The lawyers, in their letter, also pointed to the cases filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of oil explorations.
These cases were filed by marine mammals, through Ramos as guardian and the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. (Fidec).
Cabrido admitted the presence of mere petitions will not bar the seismic survey. But he explained it would be risky for foreign companies to undergo the survey or the oil exploration, especially if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the dolphins, whales and fishermen.
“As frontliners in the delivery of essential services like health, livelihood and environment, and as the supervising local government unit over the coastal municipalities, you are expected to look into the negative impact of the project (seismic survey) on the lives of the people in the affected communities and the destruction to the ecosystem,” the letter to the governors read.