No wonder, the clean up of the oil spill in Estancia, Iloilo drags on because the key players turn out to be kiths, kins, look-alike, reincarnation and what-not, of Janet Lim Napoles, mastermind and primadonna of the P14-B pork barrel scam that has sent millions of enraged Pinoys raising their hackles.
Estancia, erstwhile Alaska of the Philippines, is now a land of abomination and desolation. First, it has a set of morally bankrupt local officials who sold off their public market and public plaza to a heartless business conglormerate Gaisano which is notorious for overworking its workers and paying them starvation wages.
But that’s not the heart of our story here. I will deal with the pack of scoundrels led by Mayor Rene Cordero and vice mayor Butching Aclaro who betrayed their town for 30 pieces of silver later.
The problem of Estancia, 120 km. north of Iloilo City, is that, it is now on its knees after supertyphoon Yolanda battered it November 8. It’s still down on its knees because its coastal communities lost their ability to sing for their meals, better still, are crippled and no longer capable of pursuing their career of fishing whose catch once has reached the dining tables not only of Iloilo households but outside as well, particularly Manila.
Yolanda slammed Power Barge 103 of Napocor, a government corporation, during the onslaught of Yolanda on the rocky shore of Estancia breaking its hull and grounding it. Initially, the spilled bunker fuel was contained by the boom dropped by the Coast Guard within Brgy. Botongon that the Coast Guard dropped immediately when the sky cleared since Yolanda.
Until now, the slick continues to spread and has in fact, reached the shores not only of Estancia but of nearby towns of Batad, San Dionisio and Concepcion.
The reason is that, no less than the national government so willed it by contracting a bogus entity that has no means of carrying out the job of cleaning up the shores from the oil slick.
The company contracted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, Corporation (PSALM) is named “Kuan Yu Global Technologies, Inc.”, quite an impressive name but just the same, nothing but a fraud: its capitalization is a measly P63,000; it has no equipment; and has no trained crew of its own armed with safety gadgets like rubber boots, gloves and gas masks.
All that Kuan Yu did was recruit from amongst the Yolanda evacuees and armed them with pails and surgical masks in utter disregard of the DOH guideline prohibiting work from 9 am to 4 pm when the sun heat is at its peak and the evaporation of toxic fumes is at its height.
The soil spill started November 8. Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor Sr. ordered forced evacuation of Brgy. Botongon involving 1,200 families effective November 22 as recommended by the DOH because the deadly benzene fumes heavily contaminated the environs at 16.9 parts per million (ppm), way above the tolerable level of 0.5 ppm.
PSALM conducted a public bidding November 20 and November 21, declared failure of bidding and ruled in favour of an entity it earlier disqualified, Kuan Yu, for “negotiated contract.” A news, apparently, a press release November 21, called Kuan Yu Global Technologies, Inc., “China based.” Its office it purported to be in Bulacan, in non-existent. Its chief executive, Karl Ignatius Young turned out to be an Ilonggo.
The contract is worth P87 million to include clean up, refloating of Napocor Power Barge 103, and towing it the Port of Batangas.
Kuan Yu was supposed to start working November 22, the date when the forced evacuation was implemented. Estancia town spent P30 daily per evacuee at the evacuation camp at the campus of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnique State College (NIPC), for the first five days. Iloilo Province took over on the sixth day spending P86,000 daily, in effect.
What happened to Kuan Yu?
Nothing. Its first day of operation was unworthy of reporting. Its sole equipment, a crane collapsed. The machine was not its own: it only rented it.
Kuan Yu, with PSALM sleeping in blissful innocence, dragged its feet while the slick spread and brought havoc in three more towns – Batad, San Dionisio and Concepcion.
Kuan Yu finally began working — on December 8, by siphoning off what was left of the bunker fuel in the tank of Napocor Power Barge 103.
We are supposed to clap our hands because enlightenment and public responsibility finally dawned on Kuan Yu and PSALM.
No. We have to continue raising our angry voices together with our hackles. We are still being defrauded by this pair of charlatans.
Kuan Yu might have started working but it has not yet brought its own equipment. The pump it uses now to siphon off the remaining bunker fuel from the ill fated barge is not its own: it is borrowed from the Coast Guard, declares Commodore Athelo Ybanez, its chief in Western Visayas.
“Bai”, as well call the amiable guy, happens to be the husband of an officemate, and we can vouch he does not lie.
Why does PSALM continue to coddle Kuan Yu despite its brazen deficiency and fraudulent performance?
We are not answering it yet. But we can give readers a hint: the owner of Kuan Yu must be a disciple of Janet Napoles of the P14-billion-pork-barrel-scam fame.
Napoles rose to fame and later shame, courtesy of her husband, a PMA graduate and Army officer who used his military connections in cornering pork barrels.
The owner of Kuan Yu is not Napoles nor the wife of one: he is a PMA (Philippine Military Academy) alumnus himself who resigned after completing his eight-year mandatory stint from the Armed Forces to venture into business. Like Janet Napoles, he has connections in the corridors of power like Senate Pres. Franklin Drilon.
Bwisit nga Franklin Drilon! The Prince of Pork!