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PIA Press Release

Task Force Solar Oil Spill remains committed to task

by ES Subong

Guimaras (13 August) -- One year after the MV Solar I oil spill tragedy, Task Force Solar Oil Spill (TF SOS) Incident Commander Presidential Assistant Rafael "Lito" Coscolluela said TF members are still there together.

Sec. Coscolluela said after a year things are not "quite normal" for there are still signs of adverse effects of the oil spill on the lives of the people of Guimaras. He said they have still more things to do, more problems to address.

"We'll be here for the long haul, do what needs to be done, know what we have to do and keep doing them. We'll stay until Guimaras recovers," Coscolluela said.

He told those who were present during the program commemorating the Oil Spill tragedy, that he had been holding weekly meetings with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), to follow-up releases of the P867 million supplemental fund for the rehabilitation of Guimaras and other affected areas.

So far, he said, only about 25% have been released and it took President Gloria Arroyo's visit in the province for P50 million to be immediately earmarked for the rehabilitation, where 50% of it had been already released.

He added that they were forced to review and revise some of the proposed plans for rehabilitation because of the instruction of President Arroyo that the calamity funds released as supplemental budget under RA 9358 should be used judiciously by concerned agencies and Local Government Units.

Coscolluela said the President felt there were some items in the proposals which were not necessary, which included some administrative and Information, Education and Communication concerns, which were removed.

By and large, Coscolluela saw their job as a Task Force as dynamic and challenging, with the media who kept them alert on issues and kept information flowing, the partners, who despite, controversies and disagreements just kept on working and doing what they were supposed to do.

He saw the experience as something that should guide the agencies and other sectors to review their disaster preparedness plans and make the vulnerable areas better prepared for any calamity.

He also felt the Philippines, with the Guimaras oil spill experience, can share to the rest of the world what unity and cooperation is in a developing country, and what social responsibility is, in the light of the tragedy. (PIA 6) [top]

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