Green groups unveil mural calling for protection of Verde Island Passage

May 1, 2022

Youth and environmentalists paint 25-meter mural in Batangas City calling for protection of marine biodiversity hotspot Verde Island Passage from pollution, climate change, and dirty energy projects. Photo supplied

Youth and pro-environment advocates covered a 25-meter wall with a mural calling for urgent action to protect a biodiversity hotspot in Batangas province on April 29. 

The advocates called on voters to use the May 9 elections “to shape a government that will do (its) part in protecting” the Verde Island Passage (VIP).

“As the election nears, we hope voters and candidates running for public service positions alike will be reminded of our common duty to protect the precious biodiversity of VIP and treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is,” said TJ Alcantara of ECOSILAK – Youth for VIP.

Alcantara said dirty energy should not have a space in the next administration, adding that Filipinos must “vote for sustainable leadership and governance centered on people and the environment.”  

Verde Island Passage is a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea beyond.

It 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.

The 1.14 million hectare passage is extremely rich in marine biodiversity, the richest area in the entire Coral Triangle. It has been called “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.”

Lawyer Avril De Torres, Policy, and Law Program Head of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), said marine life in VIP is “in peril” due to the expansion of fossil gas facilities in Batangas. 

The province is home to five operating fossil gas power plants and site for eight new fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and seven new LNG terminals.

“Just in time for this mural painting initiative, there is news of an outbreak of the coral-eating crown of thorns starfish in Batangas – a situation brought about by disturbances in natural marine life systems, and increasing sea surface temperature due to climate change exacerbated by various anthropogenic activities,” said De Torres. 

She said the impacts of the fossil gas facilities “will trigger even worse scenarios, and will gravely hurt local livelihoods that are dependent on the health of VIP.”

Renowned climate activist and muralist AG Saño encouraged the youth to use the art and their craft to engage in various social, political, and environmental issues.

“There is always space for young people to participate in solution processes, and we encourage them to use their talents to send the message across to more people,” he said. 

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