The Aetas of Pastolan in Subic Bay Freeport has ratified the expansion of wind and solar energy projects in its ancestral land as part of their commitment to sustainable development.
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), through Emerging Power Inc. (EPI), a renewable energy (RE) firm, will allocate US$200M to its renewable energy project which will cover 800 hectares of Mount Santa Rita, a Pastolan ancestral land, in observance of a Joint Management Agreement (JMA).
“We are proud that the Pastolan Aetas have been very supportive in this milestone. This partnership is a witness that preservation of heritage and sustainable development can work together without being compromised,” SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia said.
“We are helping each other by moving forward with our plans for the preservation of our future generation,” Garcia added.
The JMA was signed and witnessed on October 10, 2013 by SBMA, The Aetas, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). The said project will generate a total of 150-megawatts of RE.
The agreement was forged to protect and preserve the rights of the Aetas along with the implementation of socio-economic and cultural development programs by SBMA.
The groundbreaking of wind and solar power farm, which happened on October 2015, was the first wave of its expansion.
Chairman Garcia assures that the Pastolan Aetas will benefit from this expansion, same with the turnover of P14.8M cheque to the Aetas as payment for lease rentals by the locators within the ancestral domain.
“We are giving a priority job hiring to the Aetas for the construction of more solar and wind power plants. The welfare of our brothers and country will always be important to us,” Garcia said.
The expansion is a collaborative action of SBMA and Indigenous Peoples to uphold RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act in 2008 to invest on RE projects. This also serves as their support in the global commitment of Philippines to reduce greenhouse gas emission at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21).
“As the first military base to be successfully converted into a Freeport zone, we are reaching greater heights by playing a vital role in the preservation of both cultural heritage and environment with the installation of a major clean energy project in partnership with Indigenous Peoples,” Garcia said.