Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And The Hits Just Keep on Coming... for Petron

SunStar, a newspaper based in Southern Philippines, reports that the barge contracted by Petron to transport the oil sludge from Guimaras to the Holcim Plant in Lugait, Misamis Oriental SANK last Monday somewhere off the coast of neighboring Misamis Occidental province (read more here). After Guimaras Governor Rahman Nava, it is now Misamis Occidental Governor Loreto "Leo" Ocampos' s turn to agonize over a "mini-oil spill" in his province.

Incidentally, Leo Ocampos is an old friend. I first met him when he was just a faculty (and later Dean) of the College of Engineering at Misamis University, Ozamis City and we became fast friends. He is a jolly and very funny fellow and his laugh is infectious. And since he is quite tall, I used to kid him and called him "The Richard Gomez of Ozamis." He was very popular with his students. When he first ran for Board Member, he instantly became a hit (especially with the youth) and garnered the highest number of votes among the Board Members. When you are the Number 1 Bokal, people egg you to run for Vice Governor and that's what exactly Leo did, again winning handily against his opponent. Hardly had he warmed his seat as Vice Governor when his Governor suddenly died of illness, thereby making him the Main Man of Misamis. His reelection was a cinch and I think he is already on his third and last term as Governor of Misamis Occidental right now. I consider Leo a model local-level politician - someone who has both brains and charisma, dynamism and drive, and the most important, a sense of humor. You have to have a sense of humor in order to last in politics and you must not take yourself too seriously (masyado pa-importante) in order not to lose your old friends.

Anyway, back to the sinking. The incident occured last Monday and it is now Wednesday but our National Disaster officials have yet to issue a report on what oil spill mitigation measures they are doing or are planning to do in Misamis Occidental. Although Petron was quick to downplay the incident claiming that the environmental effects would not be as calamitious as the oil spill in Guimaras, the fact is that that damned Petron Oil Sludge is like a roving Black Plague spreading and contaminating different areas in the country. I myself have no rage left; when I read about the incident all I can do is sigh in exasperation. I don't know whether the Petron people (who chose and contracted the barge) are idiots or just plain malas. They should probably have their offices feng shui-ed or something to ward off the "evil spirits" because "PR calamities" like this just keep on hitting Petron.

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