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Environmentalist says SC Tanon Strait ruling to benefit fight against oil drilling

CEBU CITY, April 28 — An environmental lawyer said the Supreme Court ruling declaring as unconstitutional the oil exploration in the Tañon Strait, the body of water separating Cebu and Negros islands, is a precedent that would fuel the fight against similar projects in Cebu.

Lawyer Ben Cabrido said he and his allies will use the decision to continue their quest for the nullity of existing service contracts, specifically the oil exploration in the towns of Alegria and Aloguinsan, both in southern Cebu.

Cabrido said that while the landmark decision would influence how Cebuanos perceived oil explorations and environmental stewardship in general, they were fighting the oil exploration for the right to life of every living thing, including the marine animals of Tañon Strait.

Cabrido said the government agencies that gave the go signal for the oil exploration off Alegria and Aloguinsan could be held accountable for the permission they gave.

These agencies include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said they respected the constitutional right of the environmental advocates and would answer their complaint in the proper time and venue.

“We’ll address it the moment we receive a formal complaint for us to make a comment. Until now, we have not received a copy of the resolution from the Supreme Court,” Llamedo said.

Cabrido was referring to the SC decision nullifying the contract of Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) for oil exploration and drilling in the Tañon Strait.

The SC said that in giving its approval, the DOE violated Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution and of Republic Act 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System.

The ruling’s petitioners included Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of Oceana Philippines, one of the original petitioners along with Cabrido and environmental advocate Vince Cinches. (PNA)

RMA/EB/EDS

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