Batangas folk call for protection of livelihood, Verde Island Passage from gas expansion

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Batangas folk call for protection of livelihood, Verde Island Passage from gas expansion
Fisherfolk hold a protest in the waters of Batangas City to denounce the expansion of fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants there, which threaten to put the marine-life rich Verde Island Passage and their livelihood at risk.
Center for Energy, Ecology and Development

BATANGAS CITY, Philippines — On Earth Day, fisherfolk groups and local communities called for the protection of their livelihood and the marine-life rich Verde Island Passage (VIP) from the development of fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants here in the city.

The fossil gas expansion is feared to put the ecological corridor at further risk and affect the livelihood of fisherfolk from different parts of Batangas province.

Yul Gilea, vice chair of Bukluran ng Mangingisda ng Batangas, said small-scale fishermen like him catch less than one kilogram of fish per day on average. They used to catch 40 to 50 kilograms of fish per day before gas facilities had been built.

“Sa ngayon limang planta pa lang ang nakatirik sa Batangas City, dama na namin ang pangangapos ng mangingisda,” the fisherman from Mabini town said.

Over 20 boats sailed into the waters of Batangas City from Brgy. Sta. Clara to Brgy. Ilijan to protest the developments.

Brgy. Ilijan and Brgy. Dela Paz are the sites of an LNG terminal proposed by Linseed Field Power Corporation and Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co., which lies adjacent to a new 1,700 MW plant of San Miguel Corporation.

Biodiversity hotspot

Verde Island Passage, the strait that separates the Southern Luzon provinces of Batangas and Mindoro, is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country.

A part of the Coral Triangle, it is known as the “center of the center” of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world.

But its rich biodiversity is threatened not only by illegal fishing practices and unsustainable tourism, but also by operations of fossil gas and LNG facilities.

Batangas is the site of a fleet of eight proposed fossil gas and LNG power plant projects and seven new LNG terminals, according to the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development.

“The theme of this year’s Earth Day is fitting for proponents and backers of LNG who are indeed 'investing on our planet'—our planet's destruction,” CEED executive director Gerry Arances said.

“The VIP is a treasure not just by our country and its people, specially the marginalized fisherfolks, but ultimately of humanity—worth investing all the protection it needs,” he added.

Philstar.com sought the comments of AG&P and SMC, but they have yet to reply to our query. We will update the article once they respond.

Withdraw gas plans

Natural gas, just like coal and oil, is a fossil fuel burned in power generation plants to produce electricity. While natural gas emits about 50% less carbon dioxide emissions than coal, it is mainly composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Natural gas advocates call it a bridge fuel in the global energy transition. Green groups, however, warn that using fossil gas as a band-aid solution to help the country transition to renewable energy poses danger to the environment and people’s health.

Locals urged electoral candidates to do their part in protecting VIP and their livelihood.

Batangas City mayoral candidate Edu Garcia said he will halt the operation of gas facilities in the city to ensure the protection of the people and the environment if he wins in the May polls.

“There had been much electoral talk recently about candidates withdrawing, but the only thing that needs to be withdrawn in the lead up to the May elections are plans for these destructive LNG projects,” CEED’s Arances said.






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