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On Earth Day: Calls to protect VIP reach tallest Virgin Mary statue in the world

Updated: Apr 29




Protect VIP, a coalition of advocates, fisherfolk, church groups, and communities, amplified their calls for the protection of the Verde Island Passage (VIP) in celebration of Earth Day at the highest statue of Virgin Mary in the world.


The group conducted the creative action at the Montemaria International Pilgrimage & Conference Center in Batangas City, a statue overseeing the waters of the VIP. Father Edwin Gariguez, lead convenor of Protect VIP, highlighted the crucial role of oceans in giving life to our planet and its need for protection.


“We are reminded on Earth Day of the importance of environmental protection for our only home. This Earth would not give us the life that we have without its rich waters, hence protection of our oceans is crucial, especially protection of the ‘center of center of marine shore fish biodiversity’ on the planet, the Verde Island Passage. We stand here at the Montemaria, facing the waters of the VIP, to represent the fisherfolk and coastal communities that depend on the VIP for their living,” said Gariguez.


Gariguez also noted that protecting the VIP is not only for the sake of its communities but is also a global fight for the Earth.


“In commemorating Earth Day, we want to show that protection to the VIP is not just for the benefit of its communities — this is a fight for our planet. Safeguarding the VIP ensures that thousands of marine life will continue to thrive and flourish for our future generation to witness,” Gariguez added.


Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga already expressed their support in declaring the VIP as a protected area. With this marine paradise facing ongoing threats, Gariguez urged the agency to act with urgency in enacting legal protection for the VIP.


“The time is ticking for the VIP. It is under immense peril from fossil gas proliferations and pollution from last year’s oil spill. Marine life and the livelihoods of its communities are in danger. We urge the Philippine government, especially the DENR, to have a sense of urgency and translate their mandate to protect the environment into action by declaring the VIP as a protected area under the ENIPAS,” said Gariguez.





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