DENR help sought to protect Verde Island Passage

Environmentalists on Tuesday filed motions to resolve requests for action from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for massive tree-cutting activities in Batangas which were done without permits by the Linseed Field Corporation (Linseed) and Excellent Energy Resources, Inc. (EERI) in Batangas City, Batangas for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects of the said company.


Linseed is building an LNG facility in Brgy. Ilijan, while EERI is building a 1,750 megawatt (MW) LNG-fueled combined cycle power plant in an area covering both Brgy. Ilijan and Brgy. dela Paz. #ProtectVIP groups previously requested the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the DENR to issue certified true copies of permits for the tree-cutting activities on 7 April 2022, to which the agency replied no such permits were issued.


“We are asking the DENR and its incoming Secretary, Ma. Antonia ‘Toni’ Yulo-Loyzaga, to protect the Verde Island Passage and its surrounding areas, considered as the center of the center of biodiversity, from activities which threaten its fragile ecology. Linseed and EERI have denuded the forests of Batangas without the permit required by the Revised Forestry Code, as said by the FMB itself, and yet this agency under the DENR has yet to act as required by the same law against these companies. Three other similar requests on other possible violations by the same companies remain pending,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of CEED.


The motion was filed before DENR-Calabarzon on 20 May and sought speedy action on the part of the Department as Linseed is scheduled to commence operations on 1 August. CEED, the Bukluran ng mga Mangingisda ng Batangas, and Protect VIP (Verde Island Passage) have documented the tree-cutting and requested action from the FMB.


“These LNG projects threaten the rich maritime biodiversity of the Verde Island Passage with the pollution to be brought by the LNG tankers and power plants. Now they have exacerbated the threat by removing the few remaining forests in the area. These projects are endangering the livelihood of fisherfolk in Batangas, Mindoro, and the other islands that surround the passage in addition to the environmental damage. The DENR should act and act swiftly to prevent this from happening,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Protect VIP.


A similar motion was filed before the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) on the same day for coconut trees that were cut by the same projects, as the agency has yet to show CTCs of the permit to cut coconut trees, or to act against Linseed and EERI as required by the Coconut Preservation Act of 1995.


Environmentalists and consumer groups have long opposed the government’s switch to LNG, as the fossil fuel continues to exacerbate the climate emergency and its high prices would drive electricity to remain expensive.


“There is no reason to expand LNG use in the Philippines, or anywhere else. As a fossil fuel, it will continue to cause climate change, and its high prices burden our electricity consumers. We ask the DENR and its incoming secretary to put its foot down and help pressure the government to move to renewable energy,” said Arances.

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