Fr. Noel Sixon and the Sibuyan ISLE on Monday 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.
“We join the people of Sibuyan in urging 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 hopefully lead to a righteous closure of the toxic maritime tragedy,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The long overdue removal of the MV 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 pointed out.
As described by Rodne Galicha, Coordinator of Sibuyan ISLE, a partnergroup of the EcoWaste Coalition, “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 noted.
“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. Tuldukan nawa ni Noynoy ang kanilang paghihinagpis,” he added.
Last June 12, the EcoWaste Coalition, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Pesticide Action Network called on the Arroyo government to enforce a “return to sender” order for some 10 metric tons of endosulfan that were removed from the capsized MV Princess of the Stars in October 2008 and are now stored in Bulacan Province.
At the insistence of the environmental health and justice groups, the inter-agency Task Force MV Princess of the Stars led by then Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista ordered the return of the highly toxic pesticide back to its Israel-based manufacturer.