Union City, California - Protect VIP, a coalition of groups advocating for the protection of the Verde Island Passage, launched its solidarity campaign with the Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES) on Saturday, garnering more international support for the protection of global biodiversity hotspot.
Groups including Filipino Advocates for Justice joined the launch event in solidarity to stop fossil fuel development and to call for the protection of local livelihoods and marine ecosystems.
Gerry Arances, co-convenor of Protect VIP and executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), highlighted the substantial role played by US financiers in the perils faced by the VIP. Among these is California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), a significant investor in key players in gas developments within the VIP — Shell and Top Frontier Investor Holdings, San Miguel’s largest shareholder, with USD 560 million and 1.8 million investments, respectively.
“As the Protect VIP campaign extends to the US, we aim to amplify the voices calling the US players of gas developments in the Philippines to reconsider their investments in dirty energy. Institutions like CalPERS are positioning themselves as the culprits of the destruction of the VIP for their continued funding of fossil fuels. The Protect VIP campaign extending 7,000 miles from Batangas to the Bay is a clear testament to how massive the influence of US players is on the integrity of the VIP; and that they can do something about it by halting their funding to fossil gas,” Arances stated.
“Communities across the U.S. from the Bay Area to the Gulf South are connected to those in the Philippines resisting fossil gas. The gas the U.S. exports is feeding into the plans of corporations to build gas import terminals, such as in Batangas. The Verde Island Passage is a world treasure at risk. The Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity is proud to join the ProtectVIP campaign with our partners in the Philippines. We will organize so that not one penny more from U.S. banks and governments goes to dirty fossil fuels in the Philippines.” said Adrien Salazar, Chair of the Board of the Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity.
“The Philippines’ fight against gas is part of the global movement against fossil fuels, including here in the Bay where the resistance is strong against 200 nearly grid-connected natural gas power plants in the state of California. The VIP is a global biodiversity treasure that every Filipino, wherever they may be in the world, must take pride in. As we join the VIP campaign with utmost solidarity, we hope to add pressure on US financiers to recognize that they must turn off the funding taps for gas projects in the VIP,” said Geraldine Alcid, Executive Director of Filipino Advocates for Justice.