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PIA Press Release

Health and safety concerns tops Guimaras agenda - DWSD-10

by Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob

Cagayan de Oro City (7 September) -- The livelihood of the people in Guimaras have been very much affected by the recent oil spill that took place in their coastal waters. It was an accident that nobody was prepared for.

"Along with their livelihood, however, is our concern for their health and safety, especially the children who we know are very vulnerable to the ill-effects of the spill on their respiratory system, not to mention the skin diseases that have already afflicted some of them," Regional Director Ester Acebedo-Versoza of the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development, (DSWD), region 10, said.

What is needed is a concerted effort of the government to really do something like evacuating them, for the time being, to areas where they can be safe and can be given substitute livelihood programs to carry on their daily lives.

"It is only right that the government will sustain socio-economic interventions until the communities in the affected areas are taken out of harm's way," Verzosa said.

Although it may take a long time, she said, she is confident that the government can come up with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan backed up by the unity of the stakeholders to mop out the spill and leave enduring lessons so a repeat of this man-made calamity can be prevented.

Meanwhile, Pres. Arroyo has directed the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to ensure an airtight case against those found liable for violations of law, as no one culpable in the Guimaras national tragedy shall walk away scot-free.

The administration assures the people that justice will be served and this incident should be made a constant reminder of full cooperation among all the government, the oil companies and other firms engaged in the transport of oil and chemical products, in terms of exacting compliance with existing rules and regulations on environmental protection.

Government lawyers will be deployed to extend free legal assistance to the victims of the oil spill in filing claims before the International Pollution Compensation body.

"The Dept. of Health (DOH) and the local government units (LGU) will continue to respond to the noted rise in respiratory and skin ailments while DSWD ensures that relief is given to the affected families," Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Task Force Guimaras head, said.

In another development, Verzosa said preparations are underway for 14th year of the October Children's Month celebration in Northern Mindanao.

This year's theme of "Bright Child: Yaman ng Pamilya, Yaman ng Bansa! (Treasure of the Family, Treasure of the Country)" aims to give recognition to the role of a nurturing family and a nation in producing a bright child as a follow through of the 2005 theme of "Bright Child, Yaman ng Magulang, Lakas ng Bayan! (Treasure of the Parents, Strength of the Nation)."

"As a progressive advocacy at the community level, the Children's Month theme hopes to encourage members of the community to actively respond to the children's rights through convergence of programs ad services for the child in the communities," Verzosa said. (PIA 10) [top]

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