Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Aquino government urged to give justice to M/V Princess victims

By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) Updated June 23, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines

- An environmental group has urged the incoming Aquino government to rectify the great injustice committed against the people of Sibuyan and Mother Nature by issuing an executive order that will cause the immediate resolution of the case involving victims of the M/V Princess of the Stars tragedy.

Roy Alvarez, president of EcoWaste Coalition, said the executive order should cause the completion of the retrieval operations, including the recovery of the remains of the victims and their decent interment upon proper identification, and ensure just compensation for all victims, as well as the environmentally-sound removal of the ship and exhaustive cleanup of the Sibuyan shores.

“The long overdue removal of the M/V Princess of the Stars is causing untold suffering to the people and environment of Sibuyan, which has earned the distinction of being called the ‘Galapagos of Asia’ for its rich biodiversity,” he said.

In solidarity with the Sibuyan people, the EcoWaste Coalition threw its support behind the latest plea made by the Our Lady of Re­medies Parish in the municipality of San Fernando and the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) on the occasion of the second anniversary of the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars on June 21.

Fr. Noel Sixon and the Sibuyan ISLE scored concerned private companies and governmental agencies for failing to keep their promise of retrieving the remains of the victims still trapped inside the sunken ship and the removal of the ship itself from the coast of the famed Sibuyan Island.

Rodne Galicha, coordinator of Sibuyan ISLE, a partner group of the EcoWaste Coalition, said garbage washed ashore has transformed the seashore into a virtual dumping ground.

Aside from the huge containers of rotting cigarettes and other products stocked along the coast, Sibuyan ISLE reported that a company contracted for the initial retrieval operations had built three pits for waste disposal in Barangay Taclobo, San Fernando, contravening the local government’s directive not to leave any trash in the vicinity.

“The dumpsites are in clear violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act, which both forbid open dumping to prevent environmental pollution,” Alvarez said.

“We earnestly hope that P-Noy will give high priority to resolving this still evolving human and environmental tragedy during his first 100 days in office. The families of the victims and the people of Sibuyan have suffered long enough,” he said.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=586783&publicationSubCategoryId=67

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