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3rd district lawyers cautions govt on mega-dam project

Iloilo City, April 12, 2014


Resource persons: Attys. Zafiro Lauron, Ed Pestano, and Paul Margarico, all from Iloilo’s third congressional district.



L to R: Margarico, Peter J, Lauron, Pestano and yours truly.

L to R: Margarico, Peter J, Lauron, Pestano and yours truly.



Lawyers Boy Layton, Paul Margarico, and Edward Pestano : we are for irrigation but we are against the Jalaur Dam II, a super dam that puts the environment and our lives at risk. 



Lauron: the dam plan was railroaded even sans free, prior and informed consent.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) touts that JRMPP II will irrigate additional 30,000 of rice lands but Lauron disputes that saying it will only serve 9,000 additional rice lands “which should have been completed in the ’60 under the first phase of the project.”



“We are not against development, in fact, we are for it,” adds lawyer Pestano. “However, the proponents of the JRMP II (Jalaur River Multi Purpose Project II violated all pertinent laws and procedures.”



Petitioner Augusto Syjuco has commissioner Ric Javelosa, “the only geo-morphologist” in the country who has come up with a study that, in sum, the JRMP II is fraught with dangers to the environment and lives of people.



However, government people has approached Javelosa, a former functionary at Philvocs and Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB), and offered him a “juicy position in government.”



If that’s not attempted bribery, then what do you call it? asks Lauron.



Lawyer Margarico, native of Januiay town, holds Javelosa’s researh “more credible” than government’s assurances which he dismisses as “baseless” and “misleading.”



Government is rushing the construction of the dam even without the "free, prior and informed" consent of the indigenous Panay Tumandok

Government is rushing the construction of the dam even without the “free, prior and informed” consent of the indigenous Panay Tumandok



What is the alternative to the mega-dam?



Lawyer Pestano, citing Javelosa’s paper, points to Vietnam’s experience. He says: “Vietnam has not megadam yet its enjoys rising rice production. Vietnam has only SWIPs.”



SWIP stands for “small water impounding projects” that Vietnam built for its farmers which are cheaper, more efficient, easier to manage and safer compared to dams.”



Lauron declares he will be filing an “intervention suit” in support of Syjuco, the petitioner. “I am a native of Lambunao and I am directly affected by the project. I still want to live in my town.”



Lauron is Syjuco’s counsel in the Writ of Kalikasan suit filed against the government, in the words of Lauron, “to compel it to be more transparent and honest in its dealing with the people.”



The case was filed directly with the Supreme Court but the high tribunal referred it to the Court of Appeals where it is pending.


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Iloilo launches first beach refo


April 5, 2014


TIGBAUAN TOWN, 20 kilometers south of the provincial capital Iloilo City launches today its ambitious program that aims to protect its people from calamities, restore its marine life and push back the sea.


Mayor Suzettee Tenefrancia Alquisada says the “beach reforestation program” aims to cover 10 hectares of buffer zone stretching through nine coastal barangays.




Gov. Arthur D. Defensor leads the launching this morning of the first beach reforestation project with the planting of 5,000 mangroves along the tidal flats and “mangrove cousins” in beaches unreached by tidal flow.


The seedling include “bakhaw”, talisay (Terminalia catappa), beach agoho (Casuarina equisetifolia), coconuts (cocos nucifera) and “kamunsil” (kamatsili or Pithecellobium dulce).


Some 1,500 volunteers this morning trooped to the venue the mouth of the Sibalom River. The gather turns out both into tree planting and some sort of forum with Defensor taking time narrating the success story of a fishing community in an island in Negros Occidental. 


“Their lives as illegal fishers changed after enlisted them in beach regreening. “In less than two years, their daily catch of various marine products dramatically increased,” Defensor says.


This rown’s shoreline has been receeding as sea level rises. Past coastal reforestation program of the Iloilo provincial government focused largely on mangrove planting.


Defensor vows to replicate the project in other coastal towns. He represents Iloilo Province in the Visayas Sea Marine Bio-Diversity Coalition, which seeks to revive the worlds richest fishery area in terms of biodiversity.


Dr. Jurgenne J. Primavera, retired scientist from the South East Asia Fisheries Council, a consortium of East Asian countries, writes that mangroves and its cousins, beach forest trees, are crucial in mitigating the impact of global warming because “they sequester carbon and other green house gases 10 times more efficient than inland forests,” serve as better natural coolants.

Primavera, recipient of international awards for her studies on mangroves, now serves as consultant on mangroves for Norway.

Aside from that, they serve as “first line of defense” against floods, tsunamis, sea surges, storms, sea intrusions, and even pest and diseases. They reclaim the sea, serve as biofilter cleaning the water, and habitat and breeding ground of fishes, thus, ensuring food security.


Still, they are sources of fuel, housing materials, medicines, and fabrics, among others.


Alquisada says the beach reforestation program will continue after the provincial subsidy ends in 2016.


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TyFoon Asis

March 24, 2014

Iloilo City


“Livelihood” was an esoteric term in the early ‘80s when the Marcos regime introduced the KKK or Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran, a multi-billion peso venture in soft-loans to entrepreneurs nationwide. Livelihood was manna from heaven and promised to turn the place where it fell into paradise.


With a mere “notice” sent them by TF Asis of Iloilo City Hall, residents have little time to prepare when the task force demolition team backed u by the police, swoop on them days after. For most of them, their roadside stores, repair shops, vulcanizing, coffee shops, fish stands, etc. are their sole means of survival. (Photo by Limuel Celebria)


KKK did not benefit the poor comprising peasants, workers, unemployed and the landless. The manna landed on the lap middle class and government functionaries, especially, military officers who availed of up to P50,000 per person. At that time when the worker’s monthly income ranged from P700 to P1,000, the loan package of P50,000 was something and more than enough to invest in inland fish farming, set up sari-sari store, venture into poultry or piggery, a furniture shop, etc.


The Marcos government treated that as a give-away and did not bother to collect from borrowers. KKK started off from a cavalier presumption that recipients, the poor, are stupid and can’t stand on their feet. Its central concern is prop up the sagging image of the dictator.


Let’s visit the place where my feet are anchored now: Iloilo City. Atty. Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor, mayor of Iloilo City from 1992 through 2001, comes to mind when the term “livelihood” pops up, though he may not be the sole or best example in that field.


Mansing might not have verbalized his alternative theory of livelihood but practices it: promoting one is “to do nothing”. Yes, all government needs to do is do nothing.


“To do nothing” means local government should only recognize the productive capacity of its own people, hence, his practice of just providing a conducive climate for it.


Instead of giving dole-outs, Mansing’s administration simply tunes in to what is on hand: Iloilo City is full of such – artisans who craft or repair furniture, engines, vehicles, electronic gadgets, street kusineros frying peanuts and cashews in full view of pedestrians, vendors who make life convenient by setting up makeshift stores nearby selling fruits, vegetables at reasonable prices.


Or barbers who put up shop on sidewalks. The list is infinite to show that Iloilo City is not wanting in people with skills to make themselves and the community self-nourishing.


Mayor Mansing knows that though he doesn’t categorically verbalizes it, that is, he simply lets them be. His administration gives the climate of tolerance. At one point, his friend, Larry Jamora, asked him to drive away mobile kiosks cooking food because fumes from their stands defaced the paint of his buildings in downtown Iloilo. Mansing smilingly told him: “pabay-I lang d’a sila (let them stay).”


Even residences whose walls are far from the shoulder of the road are not spared as the house in photo which lost its front wall including the gate to TyFoon Asis. Irt is even far from the roadside tree planted by the barangay. (Photo by Limuel Celebria)


The incumbent Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to some extent followed his predecessor. When he was still councilor he authored an ordinance creating a night market, similar to the ones he saw in nearby Asian countries where a particular public place becomes one giant bazaar at night until morning selling local delicacies, souvenir items, even imitations of branded products. Mabilog’s brainchild is still unborn because Rep. Jerry Trenas, the mayor then, turned to be a disinterested midwife.


Mabilog makes history by pushing through a similar livelihood program called “pedestrianization”, closing from vehicular traffic the junction of Iznart Street from corner Arroyo Street up to Freedom Grandstand. The “pedestrianized” portion becomes an agora for buyers to scrounge for bargains – clothes, shoes, hand tools, electronics, foods, toys, etc. Others may stroll in the middle of the road but must be careful for kids who convert the whole road into their playground. The street becomes cooler and relaxing to walk by minus the heat and fumes from vehicles.


Mabilog converted to the grandiose concept of livelihood which he must have ingested from his uncle, Senate President Franklin Drilon and this changed the vector of his economic program that broadcaster Jun Caps calls “beutificaaaatiiiioooon”.


And this is disturbing. This morning, March 24, 2014, Limuel Celebria uploaded pictures of a clearing operation by Task Force Anti-Illegal Structures (TF Asis) at La Granja, La Paz district.


TyFoon Asis, packing the velocity called “sheer madness”, flattened everything in its path along road shoulders, worse than supertyphoon Yolanda.


Yolanda’s wrath of 350 kph wind velocity, was known a week ahead, but the sheer madness of TyFoon Asis, just swooped down unannounced wrecking not just the makeshift stores and shops and their goods and tools inside but worse, the heads of its victims.


It’s befuddling: here are hundreds of families – skilled families – who live with their toil, who don’t ask government for food nor enrol in “Four Ps” of BS Aquino, here are people who cry neither for loans nor grants to start a livelihood, here is a community which thrives on its feet making both ends meet with minimal if not zero aid from government.


Their future is unknown as Mabilog has not provided one to cushion the blow of privation.


A platoon of PNP officers was at the scene, not to protect the victims whose only tools for survival were being demolished, but to protect the wrecking crew.


They have to be driven away so the road is widened and clear in order to ensure the unimpeded passage of the vehicles and goods of the rich and famous.


TyFoon Asis victims are left asking themselves: where shall we go from here?


If they so ask that, I would be glad to tell them to first hail the masterminds and implementors to the Ombudsman for grave misconduct, act unbecoming, oppression, usurpation of judicial authority, acts prejudicial to public welfare, etc.

The victims were not public nuisance or nuisance per se, and many of them have their fences and structures outside the sidewalks, yet TyFoon Asis still demolished their gates and parts of their walls without first offering compensation nor securing a court order.

TyFoon Asis, an extension of local executive authority, still needs a judicial order to eject structures which do not in anyway obstruct the road.


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Contractor declines to give address

Defensor: miffed by the sluggishness of Kuan Yu.

Should Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. make good his threat of hailing Kuan Yu Global Technologies to court, where will he serve the copy of his complaint to the latter?

Task force members L-R: Dr. Sadaba, Dr. Banias, Cmmdr. Ybanez

And members of Task Force Oil Spill are baffled : Kuan Yu refuses to give its office address “for security reasons”.

Defensor formed the task force to monitor Kuan Yu’s performance of cleaning up the oil spill that began at Brgy. Botongon, Estancia November 8, 2014, when super typhoon Yolanda lashed northern Iloilo.

Kuan Yu’s Valentin Menpin (second from right) tells the task force convenors that the company’s office address is confidential for “security reasons”.

The spill spread to neighboring towns and down to Ajuy, 40 kilometers south of Estancia.

Defensor’s counsel, the Iloilo Provincial Legal Office will only just be looking for a needle in a haystack seeking its official address in Metro Manila to serve copies of its pleadings. Kuan Yu only uses its temporary address, Tanza, Estancia, iloilo. It refuses to reveal even to task force members it’s office address in Manila “for security reasons”.

Defensor has been miffed by sluggishness of the contractor which does not have a time frame, work plan and worse, equipment and trained personnel to carry out the job.

“As the days drag, Kuan Yu is getting more mysterious,” notes Dr. Raul Banias, provincial administrator.

“Please, request us in writing,” Kuan Yu’s Valentin Menpin tells Grace Prodigo Lobaton, representative of Save Our Seas to the Task Force, who asks for the address.

“How can I reach your office if you don’t give its address to us?” Mutters back Lobaton.

“Kuan Yu is merely confirming public suspicion that it is not transparent in its public dealings,” comments Dr. Rex Sadaba, oceanologist hired to monitor the contractor’s performance.

Sadaba in his power point presentation suggests that Kuan Yu be given a deadline until March 31 to complete the job.

Grace Prodigo (left) of Save Our Seas shots back: “How will I mail my query?”
She asks for the address of Kuan Yu in Manila. “Please write us a formal request,” answers Kuan Yu’s Menpin who maintains that his company’s address is confidential “for security reasons.”

That’s not the first trick up in Kuan Yu’s sleeve, though. Defensor demanded for copy of its articles of incorporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) but Kuan Yu rebuffed him because its incorporation documents were “trade secrets”.

Dr. Glen Alonsabe, also a task force member from the Department of Health (DOH), asked for copies of the payroll to check if the workers were covered with insurance, especially PhilHealth. Kuan Yu’s Valentin Menpin, answered that the government health officer write the company requesting it for the payroll copy.

And where will Dr. Alonsabe send his written request?

notes: Curiously:

*Kuan Yu has only P62,500 paid up capital, it has no heavy equipment nor trained crew for oil spill clean up;

*It is engaged in water purification, bottling and delivery and has no track record in oil spill clean up;

*The bidding was done on November 21, 2014; Franklin Drilon on November 19, 2013 announced in Iloilo that the winning contractor was Kuan Yu;

*Kuan Yu started working, December 8, 2013, by siphoning the remaining bunker fuel from the ill-fated power barge;

*it has been fouling up its work:

**stockpiling sacked oil contaminated and dried up oil debris in Ajuy and was slow in transporting the wastes to a processor accredited by the Coast Guard;

**The wastes spilled from the sacks contaminating the bare soil flooring of its temporary warehouse in Ajuy. Ajuy, a town of fishponds has become a pond of oil spill as the liquid from the bagged wastes drained into the soil surface of the warehouse;

**The open well of Brgy. Botongon Elementary School was contaminated by bunker fuel because Kuan Yu people sunk its contaminated pvc pipe to pump freshwater to power spray into the contaminated concrete surfaces and rocks;

**Instead of taking out the dried up bunker fuel on concrete and rock surfaces, Kuan Yu only “sandseeded” (spreading sand) over them;

**To get rid of contaminated rocks, Kuan Yu merely gathered them and dumped them to the deeper portion of the sea off Estancia town.

Commodore Athelo Ybanez, PCG district director, notes that sandseeding and dumping of contaminated rocks into the sea are not in the work plan approved by his office.

(The pictures are taken this morning, regular assessment meeting of the task force.)

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(Task Force Oil Spill (TFOS) Meeting

Board Room, Office of the Governor

Capitol, Iloilo City , 

Kuan Yu Global Technologies, Inc., the contractor, reports it is already complete.





However, the rest of the Task Force Oil Spill insist it’s far from over.

Kuan Yu representative Valentino G. Menpin, also a task force member, reported that its contract is almost done since the oil spill, the disaster that came November 8, 2013 when supertyphoon Yolanda slammed the state-owned Napocoro’s Power Barge 103 from its berth to the rocky shore of Brgy. Botongon, Estancia town.




That report though was challenged by Dr. Resurrection Sadaba, the oceanologist from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) who came up with a power-point presentation on the contractor’s deficiencies.

Kuan Yu's Menpin

Kuan Yu’s Menpin

The spill has spread to Batad and San Dionisio towns. As result mangroves there are “dead or dying”. Some are still alive but are “defoliating”, goes Sadaba’s presentation. The slides further show shores still with bunker oil some of which becoming “asphalt formation.” 

Coast Guard's Ybanez

Coast Guard’s Ybanez


Kuan Yu so far has only collected the liquid and solid debris and stored them in makeshift warehouses instead of shipping them for treatment by licensed bunker fuel processing plants, comments Cmmdr. Athelo Ybanez, Philippine Coast Guard (PSG) director for W. Visayas and assistant chair of the task force.

“The collected debris has to be shipped out immediately”, insisted Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr., chair of the task force. Kuan Yu’s Velentino G. Menpin requested for a copy of the power-point presentation. Defensor told him: “We will furnish you but that’s not necessary because you have to remove it immediately with or without the copy.”

Ybanez reminded Menpin that Kuan Yu violated its program by “sand seeding” the debris on the shore. “It’s not in your program of work. Your contract states that you have to remove the pollutant and apply bio-degreasing substances under controlled condition,” he added.

“Sand seeding” is a process of spreading sand on the spill.

At Kuan Yu’s warehouse, some barrels are leaking while the sacks containing the solid wastes had punctures that spilled the solid particles on the uncemented flooring. “This is dangerous to the health of the people. The leaking bunker fuel has the danger of seeping down to underground water tables,” explained Ybanez.

What about the health condition of people?

Toxicologists from Manila sent by the Department of Health in November should that persons examined for lead contamination have “7.18” lead content in their blood, that is 7.18 micro-grams per one deci-liter of blood which was still below the tolerable level of 10 micro-grams, explained Dr. Glenn Alonsabe, epidemiologist at the DOH regional office here.

Alonsabe though asked that blood test of persons along the contaminated areas be done every three months to include Coast Guard and Marina personnel, and workers hired by Kuan Yu.

Persons interviewed by health authorities complained of skin and eye irritation, sore throat, breathing difficultyu, dizziness, nausea and lack of appetite due to the air they breathed, added Alonsabe.

Blood testing is voluntary though. Alonsabe noted that people fear having their blood samples taken. Cmmdr. Ybanez had the same observation on Coast Guard personnel who requested that only droplets be extracted from them instead of one 5 c.c. vial of blood.

Twenty-meters from the shore of Botongon is still off-limit for people due to high benzene contamination. Alonsabe noted that Kuan Yu violated safety procedures by not providing its personnel “PPE”. 

A recent visit by TFOS in Estancia exposed them the view of Kuan Yu workers wearing only long sleeves and surgical masks. The PPE that Alonsabe mentioned stands for “personal protective equipment” that includes an overall attire from head to foot, a gask mask and rubber gloves and boots. Some workers they saw at work were in their slippers. 

SOS's Prodigo

SOS’s Prodigo

Mary Grace Prodigo Lobaton, head of the NGO Save Our Seas (SOS) inquired on Kuan Yu’s plan for the bunker fuel contaminated soil its personnel scooped from the soil surface. She showed them picture of bunker contaminated gravel stockpiled on roadside, and another picture of the road where another stockpile had just been graded on the surface.

Dr. Alonsabe (left) and Dr. Sadaba (seated)

Dr. Alonsabe (left) and Dr. Sadaba (seated)


“We will verify that,” answered Menpin. “That’s not in our plan.”

Before adjourning the meeting the TFOS ordered Kuan Yu to follow the DOH guideline on work hours that is only from 6 to 10 in the morning, and from 2 to 5 in the afternoon to avoid the hottest period of the day which releases more volumes of the deadly benzene gas.

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Defensor warns Kuan Yu, Rallyists assail national government

ILOILO Provincial Capitol
Iloilo City
04 February 2014

Defensor giving Kuan Yu respresentative an earful.

While rallyists were giving the P-Noy administration an earful for its ineptness in responding to supertyphoon Yolanda victims this morning, Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor hissed an earful as well on Kuan Yu Global Technologies, Inc. likewise for ineptness in cleaning up the shores of northern Iloilo from the oil spill.

Defensor (center) to Kuan Yu: I reserve the right of Iloilo Province to file charges against Kuan Yu. Beside him is Coast Guard Commodore Ybanez.

“We condemn the irresponsibility and inefficiencyt of the national government and the government of Pres. P-Noy Aquino,” boomed Edgar Salarda, head of the Piston-Panay, a militant association of jeepney drivers and operators.

Some 50 persons held a rally at the gate of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol this morning, coinciding with the meeting of the Task Force Oil Spill that Defensor convened.

Piston-Panay’s Salarda: We condemn the insensetivity and irresponsibility of the Aquino administration.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the DENR (environment), DOH (health), NGOs, and Kuan Yu, the last, the corporationb contracted to do the clean up by the governbment-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp.

“Kuan Yu has incurred delays to the damage and prejudice of the people of (the towns of) Estancia, Batad, Concepcion and San Dionisio,” Defensor said. And pointing a finger at Kuan Yu’s Valentino G. Menpin, he adds: “I reserve the right of the Province of Iloilo to file charges on your corporation.”

Three residents of Brgy. Botongon, Estancia, worst hit by the oil spill, already died, their asthmatic bouts aggravated since the ill-fated Power Barge 103 of the National Power Corporation was slammed by Yoland’s storm surges on its rocky shore November 8, 2013. Nine houses were plowed by the vessel, killing three persons in the process.

Dr. Rex Sadaba, an oceanologist from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) bewailed that kuan Yu’s Menpin had no time frame on the completion of the work.

“The fact that no one from the company has no idea on the duration of work shows that it has working knowledge and experience in handling their work,” notes Sadaba, also hired as consultant to the governor on the oil spill.

The rallyists identified the dead residents as Lolito Alcasa who died December 17, 2014, Donnie Trogo (Jan. 27, 2014), and Reynaldo De La Cruz. They lived beyond the 50-meter radius from the affected shoreline and were not forcibly evacuated but just the same, the fumes of benzene still contaminate their places,” noted Reylan Vergara of Karapatan-Panay.

The DOH’s regional epidemiologist Dr. Glen Alonsabe told Defensor that it is still dangerous for residents to stay within the 20-meter radius during day time, when the heat of the sun whips up benzene fumes from the dried bunker fuel.

He could not give the governor updates on the health condition of residents but sid: “
we only examined blood samples from three residents last November 8. All are positive of lead contamination.”

Justice for victims of oil spill!

Defensor told Kuan Yu’s Menpin: “I want copies of your contract with PSALM, your technical work plan, and articles of incorporation.”

“We cannot give you copy of the article of incorporation because it’s a trade secret,” answered Menpin.

Defensor boomed back: “Don’t tell me that. I am a lawyer and I practiced law before entering politics; articles or incorporation are public documents.”

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oil spill contractor’s bungling continues

As I have written earlier, Kuan Yu, the contractor awarded the P 87 M job of cleaning up the shore of Estancia from the oil spill, is a fraud. A big fraud. Baldog gid.

It has no track record in oil spill clean up nor salvaging of sunken or grounded vessels.


Dalan sa Brgy Daan Banwa, Estancia,Iloilo., Ang mga Bunker fuel nga ginkuha sa shoreline sang etancia ginpanambakan sa brgy road. Ngareklamo ang mga pumuluyo tungod sa kabaho sang bunker fuel. pipila diri, ginpanambakan sa lubak sang dalan. (photos by Ilonggo Pamuklat)

The spill started Nov. 8, 2013 when supertyphoon Yolanda lashed northern Iloilo. Storm surges brought by the typhoon battered Power Barge 103 of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and grounded it on the rocky shore of Brgy. Botongon, Estancia, Iloilo, and puncturing its hull in the process.

Until now, the clean up is not yet done. One worker, a refugee from the storm and oil spill, already died — his asthma aggravated from the benzene fumes, among other toxic gasses from the bunker fuel.

God must have performed a miracle in showering Karl Augustus Young, owner of Kuan Yu, huge blessings. His company, engaged only in water purifying and distribution, has only P62,500 paid up capital. It has no equipment nor a standing crew of personnel trained in salvaging and oil spill clean up.

A certain Franklin Drilon, alleged to be from Iloilo and allegedly still, the senate president, announced November 19 that Kuan Yu won the public bidding. With prophetic precision the following day, PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, Corp., a government entity) named Kuan Yu the winning bidder.

Kuan Yu though began working December 8 by siphoning off the remaining bunker fuel from ill fated barge — using a rickety pump borrowed from the Coast Guard.

Its primitive crew consisted of “balde” and “sandok” brigades which scooped bunker debris using pails and sans safety gears like rubber gloves and boots and gas masks.

Instead of spraying bunker fuel that dried up on the concrete ground and the rocky shore, Kuan Yu people used freshwater in spraying — enraging authorities at the Botongon Elem. School because Kuan Yu people merely sunk their bunker contaminated pipe from the school well to pump the water out.

Now the school well, contaminated with bunker fuel and benzene, is no longer fit for drinking.

Bwisit nga Franklin Drilon!