Environmental coalition Protect VIP on Friday called on Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ma. Antonia ‘Toni’ Yulo-Loyzaga to strengthen efforts to protect the Verde Island Passage (VIP) against destructive mining and fossil gas projects.
The DENR has recently faced immense pressure to stop illegal mining activities of nickel ore and other minerals in Sibuyan Island in Romblon, one of five provinces encompassed by the marine corridor, following anti-mining barricades put up by communities on the island.
“We are one with the communities suffering from mining operations. For years, the opposition against destructive mining practices has never wavered and we salute those who are continuously holding the fort. Already facing grave peril from massive plans for new fossil gas projects in its vicinity, the VIP should not be made a victim of destructive mining. The DENR, under the leadership of Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga, must take the helm in addressing pressing issues faced by the VIP,” said Goldman Prize Awardee Fr. Edwin Gariguez, lead convenor of Protect VIP.
Dubbed as the center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity in the world, VIP is the unfortunate epicenter of gas development in the Philippines, with five operating fossil gas plants in Batangas. It is also the site of eight proposed gas plants and seven planned liquefied natural gas terminals, whose proponents include San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Ayala Group’s Batangas Clean Energy (BCE), Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company (AG&P-Linseed), Simlong Energy Development Corp. (SEDCO), and Shell Philippines.
“Since the day Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga officially took office, we have repeatedly raised concerns about the expansion of fossil gas in Batangas and requested action to resolve irregularities in several project proponents’ failure to comply with the law. We trust that Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga isn’t waiting for another incident like that in Sibuyan for her to take action,” said Gerry Arances, co-convenor of Protect VIP and Executive Director of Center of Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).
Last year, Protect VIP filed a complaint before the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB) calling for the cancelation of the environmental compliance certificate of San Miguel Corporation subsidiary Excellent Energy Resources, Inc. (SMC-EERI) and Linseed Field Corporation with Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company (AG&P-Linseed).
Linseed is building an LNG terminal in Barangay Ilijan, while EERI is constructing a 1,750 megawatt LNG-fueled combined cycle power plant covering Brgy. Ilijan and Brgy. Dela Paz.
“The Philippines is blessed with incomparable richness and beauty as reflected by the biodiversity of VIP. Destructive projects, whether it be mining or fossil gas, are fundamental threats to our common home. We call on Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga to strengthen the protection of Verde Island Passage by halting destructive mining and all fossil gas projects, and instead side with the best interests of our environment,” said Fr. Gariguez.