The Provincial Government will help subsidize the daily needs of the thousands of fisher folks of the municipality of Cordova in the aftermath of the oil spill brought by the sunken passenger ferry MV Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Governor Hilario P. Davide IIIordered the Provincial Social Welfare Department to provide rice and canned goods to the residents who have lost their livelihood due to the contaminated municipal waters of Cordova.
The province, which recently declared a state of calamity, also provided food and other basic needs to the survivors of the sea accident right after the accident last August 16 until their return or departure to their respective destinations.
According to Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy, there are two groups of people that were affected by the calamity, the fisher folk and the sea products vendors.Sitoy added that only the Gilutongan Island is spared by the oil spill. The island nestles the town’s prime tourist attraction, which is its marine sanctuary. Other than that, the other components of their tourism industry have been shut down by the oil spill.
Sitoy said the oil already stuck to the mangroves and covered the sea grass. It polluted the delicacies of the town like fishes, mollusks, sea grapes and all the other seafoods in Cordova. This would include their famous bakasi, a species of fish, which according to many is an aphrodisiac. The restaurants that offer these foods also gravely suffered.
However, aside from the province’s assistance, the affected households will also get alternative livelihood program from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7. “Ato usa na silang pa nursery-honug mangroves… kadtong mga nay pump boat tagaan ug subsidy sa crudo para maka panagat sila sa layong dapit. Ug ang ilang mga asawa atong pabaligyaon ug tempura ug fish ball, pero ila nang kaha ug sugnod,” according to BFAR 7 Director Andres Bojos.
The beneficiaries should be legitimate fisher folks, Bojos clarified. For the mangrove nursery, BFAR will pay every household two pesos eachpot of mangrove propagule they produce. BFAR will also pay three pesos for every pot of propagule planted in the mangrove area, after the oil is dissolved.
“The public can still eat fish and seafood, provided that these do not come from the contaminated areas in Cordova and in some parts of Metro Cebu area”, Bojos added.
A 159 member composite team from the Philippine Army, Airforce, Navy Central Command and the Philippine Coast Guard has started the cleanup driveinn Cordova. Indigenous materials such as coconut husks and used clothing are being used as oil absorbents.
Sitoy also urged the Department of Health 7 to put up a health station beside the cleanup team. This, after some of them experienced skin itchiness. They also asked for more gloves, masks, and safety shoes.
Asked on how long they can subsidize the needs of the fisher folks, Sitoy said maybe until after the oil spill is contained. But basing on the experiences of other provinces, Davide said it might take a longer time. In the province of Guimaras, the crisis was completely addressed only after three years. (Xerxes Alkuino)