Faith-based and pro-environment groups launched a campaign to protect the Verde Island Passage against the “increasing detrimental activities” that affect it on September 27.
The groups initiated a signature campaign to call on stakeholders and the Philippine government to uphold existing commitments to preserve the 1.4 million hectare passage, which is known as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.”
The campaign aims to put a halt on the operations and massive expansion plans for fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Father Edwin Gariguez, lead convenor of “Protect VIP” or “Verde Island Passage,” said “Proponents often claim that fossil gas is a ‘clean energy’ source, despite a growing global awareness that it is, in fact, destructive.”
Gariguez, who is the social action director of Calapan, said these projects and infrastructures “seriously threaten life under and around the waters” of the strait.
“The urgency of this matter is undeniable, and we demand and expect our local and national government units and agencies to act immediately,” he said.
Verde Island Passage is one of the busiest sea lanes in the Philippines because it is the main shipping route between the Port of Manila and the Visayas and Mindanao in the south.
Silverio Bilario, president of Lakas ng Mangingisda sa Baybayin ng Tabangao (Lambat), said the establishment of a fossil gas plant has affected the livelihood of fisherfolks in the area.
He said fishermen are forced to sail farther to catch fish because there is a significant loss of marine life in the strait due to the impacts of the fossil gas plant.
Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said “We are joining the fight to protect the Verde Island Passage because it is worth fighting for.”