Bukluran ng Mangingisda ng Batangas, fisherfolk leaders together with Protect VIP, filed a complaint at the Manila office of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) concerning the actions of Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Company (AG&P), where the bank has made a $100M investment along with Osaka Gas, which violate Philippine laws and the investment rules of JBIC.
AG&P local unit Linseed Field Power Corporation is building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Batangas City which is the subject of five complaints from Protect VIP due to permit violations related to the cutting of coconut trees, land conversion, and environmental compliance. Local fisherfolk are opposed to the terminal project due to fears of a spill like the MT Princess Empress from LNG carriers, along with the threat posed by the gas project to the biodiversity and productivity of VIP.
“JBIC has rules concerning the sustainability of its investments, rules which they imposed on themselves but which they violate with their continued investment in AG&P. JBIC’s continued fossil fuel lending is not aligned with the 1.5 °C target to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In fact, JBIC's actions are indicative of Japan's status as one of the world's biggest fossil fuel lenders. As a major player in the international financial landscape, Japan has the opportunity to lead by example in transitioning towards a more sustainable and climate-friendly future, but they choose to prioritize profit over ethical and environmental responsibilities,” said Gerry Arances, executive director of CEED and co-convenor of Protect VIP.
The filing was joined by members of Protect VIP, who dressed up in iconic Japanese anime characters and carried banners saying “Gas is not kawaii.” Kawaii, is the term for the culture of cuteness in Japan which is essential to anime.
“There is nothing cute about violating the law, which is what Linseed is doing and JBIC tolerates it. Our letter tells JBIC that they have failed to monitor the compliance of Linseed with local laws, that they failed to properly classify the environmental sensitivity of the project under its own regulations, and that they failed to take action as demanded by their own guidelines. As a reputable international financial institution, this lapse in transparency and accountability is concerning. We urge JBIC to be held accountable for their legal shortcomings and to ultimately withdraw from fossil fuel funding which significantly sets us back to reach our climate imperatives,” added Arances.
Protect VIP is concerned that the continued support of JBIC for Linseed will encourage the company to circumvent more local environmental regulations in its construction and operations.
“The oil spill that devastated Oriental Mindoro shows that the lack of respect for laws can have serious consequences for the environment and the people in the area. LNG is a dangerous cargo that will now have to travel through VIP, disrupting the local way of life and livelihood of locals, while posing a threat to the environment. We are urging JBIC to obey their own environmental guidelines and cease funding Linseed,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Protect VIP Convenor.
Local fisherfolk echoed the concern of Gariguez, adding that the presence of so many gas projects in VIP will further affect their livelihood, already severely impacted by the MT Princess Empress oil spill.
“Nakakabahala ang magiging epekto ng mga terminal at planta ng gas na tinatayo sa paligid ng VIP. Ngayon pa lang, nahihirapan nang makabangon ang mga mangingisda mula sa epekto ng oil spill, tapos ay dadagdagan pa ang peligro na ito mula sa mga malalaking barko na magdadala ng LNG sa mga terminal. Nakikiusap kami na sa pamumuhunan ng JBIC, isaalang-alang din nila ang kabuhayan na maaring masira dahil sa mga kumpanyang sinusuportahan nila,” said Wilma Gregorio of the Bukluran ng Mangingisda sa Batangas.