ROSARIO, Cavite - Fishing communities of this town are beginning to rise from the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the coast of this town earlier this month and, with the help of local officials, their fishing industry is alive again.
Unity is the key, said Mayor Jose M. Ricafrente Jr. and that was what he called for in rallying thousands of residents, their village leaders, and local officials in helping clean up the mess last August 8 in order to start anew.
In his latest update on the state of the coast yesterday, Ricafrente said that all-out efforts by stakeholders have turned the waters of the municipality "99% or 100% oil-free."
"The water is now 99-percent or 100-percent oil spill-free," he said in Filipino.
The mayor said he was basing his statement on the reports released by local offices, barangay officials and other concerned groups.
This is a huge boost to the morale of the people of Rosario or Salinas (as called by elder folks), being the virtual center of the smoked fish and dried fish business in Cavite.
Apart from being home to one of the country's biggest fish ports, this first-class municipality is also known as the "Tinapa Capital of the Philippines." Ricafrente said that fishing is the livelihood source of half of the population in the area.
Thousands of people go to Ligtong daily to buy the genuine smoked and dried Salinas and other fish species for food or business. Clients of Ligtong are residents of Cavite, Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Another bit of good news followed as the mayor announced that the management of Petron, which claimed responsibility for the oil spill, will start extending emergency assistance to the fishermen and fresh fish and "tinapa" vendors on Monday.
He said Petron will give its assistance, as the company reported earlier, to affected fishermen and vendors.
"Petron will give the assistance to identified fisher and vendor-victims or those in the list. The amounts are varied, a fisherman with motorized banca will get P5,000, those with "de sagwan" or paddle banca P1,000 while a "tinapa" vendor P2,000 and those who sell fresh fish P1,000 each" the mayor said.
"The assistance for the victims will be given on Monday pero wala pa 'yung compensation para sa munisipyo (but the compensation for the municipal hall is still nil.)," he added.
Ricafrente said the town has incurred losses and damage due to the oil spill and that the cost of all this may be announced on Monday.
He estimated that hundreds of towns fishermen and vendors have been victims of the spill.
"We have identified the victims, we will release their names soon, as well as the losses and damage report soon," he said.
The mayor also assured that his administration will sue Petron for the mess done in the municipality.
"We are just waiting for the official reports of the PCG (Philippine Coast Guard), BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) and other concerned authorities on their findings on the spill for the action of the municipality to be made," he said.