Home>Editorial>Miscellaneous>DENR, DOE partner with Aboitiz, MPIC and SMC for the preservation of the Verde Island Passage

DENR, DOE partner with Aboitiz, MPIC and SMC for the preservation of the Verde Island Passage

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Energy (DOE), have entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with three of the country’s top conglomerates to protect and preserve the Verde Island Passage (VIP), an internationally recognized critical biodiversity area in the country.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) have all pledged to support the government’s environmental and community development efforts for the VIP in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing last May 7.

“As a framework for joint stewardship and sustainable development, this historic initiative 
not only underscores the collective commitment to environmental preservation but also 
heralds a new era of public-private collaboration aimed at ensuring the longevity of one of 
the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems,” DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga said.

The VIP is a strait that spans the provinces of Batangas, Marinduque, Romblon, Oriental Mindoro, and Occidental Mindoro and separates Mindoro island from Luzon. The strait’s 1.4 million hectares is home to over 1,700 fish species and 300 coral species, forming a biodiversity zone that marine experts cited as the “center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity.” In 2023, the VIP was named a ‘Hope Spot’ by the international marine conservation nonprofit organization, Mission Blue, which states that the strait is globally recognized to be critical to the health of the ocean.

The MOU details how the DENR and DOE will partner with AEV, SMC, and MPIC to collaborate with local governments, non-government organizations, international development groups, experts, and coastal communities, among others, and commit to supporting projects that promote the conservation, protection, and enhancement of biodiversity and coastal marine resources of the VIP.

Among the MOU’s objectives include supporting clean energy transition towards sustainable and resilient low carbon development, establishing Marine Science Research Stations in the VIP to advance science, policy and practices needed by the industry, committing to the responsible stewardship and sustainable access and use of the VIP’s coastal and marine resources, and creating stakeholder platforms to ensure the welfare of surrounding communities.

“We express our appreciation to the Department of Environment and Natural 
Resources, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, MVP Group of Companies and San Miguel Power 
Corporation for committing to the responsible stewardship and sustainable access 
and use of the Verde Island Passage in pursuit of the government’s overall energy 
agenda that aim to facilitate access to affordable energy, ensure a reliable and 
resilient energy supply, and transition to clean, sustainable and climate centered 
energy resources,” DOE Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said.

To support the government’s sustainable energy goals, Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP), the Aboitiz Group’s power generation arm, has been actively expanding its clean energy initiatives and renewable energy (RE) power plants. AP currently has over 1,000 MW of ongoing clean energy projects, with full operations targeted within the next three years.

“It has always been our goal to help safeguard our environment and uplift the welfare of the communities, in this case the people who are dependent on the Verde Island Passage for their livelihood. Its preservation is of paramount interest and once again the Aboitiz Group, MVP Group and San Miguel Group are working together to do our part,” AEV President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz said.

As one of the country’s busiest shipping corridors, the VIP serves as an important route for international ports and various oil and gas facilities. The strait is also host to a significant fishing industry, providing the backbone for the livelihoods of millions of people.

“We must make sure that—in our quest to provide clean, reliable, and affordable energy to our people—we also pay attention to safeguarding the environment and the communities we serve,” Metro Pacific Investment Corporation Chairman, President, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said. “Our people’s welfare and future depend on our ability to harmonize these goals. But because we have committed partners in San Miguel, Aboitiz, the DENR and the DOE, there are good grounds for optimism.”

Part of the MOU’s focus is to engage communities that depend on the VIP and improve their lives by creating inclusive platforms that enable them to sustainably profit from the strait’s natural resources.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to join forces with the Aboitiz Group, MVP Group and various stakeholders in protecting the Verde Island Passage,” SMC Chairman and CEO Ramon S. Ang said. “Preserving our marine resources is crucial not just for today but for future generations. We are fully committed to this responsibility.”

Last March, Aboitiz Power, MPIC’s Meralco Powergen Corporation, and SMC’s San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corp. collaborated to invest in the country’s first and most expansive integrated liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Batangas. The integrated LNG facility is projected to significantly increase the country’s power supply with over 2,500 MW of generation capacity once fully operational, and supports the government’s goal of lowering emissions and increasing natural gas’ share in the country’s power generation mix to 26% by 2040.

About Aboitiz Equity Ventures

AEV is one of the leading conglomerates in the Philippines with over 100 years of business history. It has major investments in power, banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, land, and data science and artificial intelligence. AEV is recognized as one of the best-managed companies in the Philippines and the region, consistently cited for its commitment to good corporate governance and sustainability. Currently, the company is on its Great Transformation journey to become the Philippines’ first Techglomerate as it continues to shape the future by advancing business and communities.

AEV is a member of the United Nations Global Compact, Global Compact Network Philippines Board of Trustees, the APEC Business Advisory Council and the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, and helps champion sustainability initiatives on a regional level through policies, advocacies, and initiatives that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). With a clear focus on ESG, the company is implementing its #OneAboitizSustainability Synergy model which transforms its life-essential businesses to improve sustainable practices and continue to create a positive impact on society and the environment.

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