27 January 2014

RP Energy launches project to protect Subic Bay ecology

The Manila Electric Co.-led Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. power consortium (RP Energy), proponent of a 600-megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant in this free port, has launched a project supporting local initiatives to protect Subic Bay.

Victor Chan, the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) officer, said that RP Energy recently conducted a two-day seminar-workshop on marine environmental laws and best practices in coastal marine management.

Chan said that despite Subic Bay’s importance to both the local fishing and tourism industry, residents here believe the bay is already suffering from over-exploitation, tourism pressure, marine pollution and destructive fishing practices.

He said that with its “Protect the Bay” initiative, RP Energy wants to help ensure the sustainability of Subic Bay by supporting the local government unit’s rehabilitation and protection efforts, as well as the local enforcement of environmental policies.

“Citizen’s participation through vigilance is crucial for the success of these efforts since the surrounding communities are also the ones directly affected by pollution in the bay,” he added.

Chan said RP Energy organized the seminar-workshop under its “Katuwang Natin sa Buhay” CSR program and in partnership with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), the College of Human Ecology of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (SB-IFARMC), and the international non-profit organization Blacksmith Institute.

The Blacksmith Institute, an organization founded in 1999 to help solve pollution problems in developing countries, has reportedly completed more than 50 clean-up projects in 21 countries.

Restituto del Rosario, chairman of the SB-IFARMC, said the fishing communities around the bay would be among those who will benefit from the project.

Thanking RP Energy for the initiative, del Rosario added that local fishermen welcome the support from the company: “Nakakatuwang isipin na ang RP Energy ay aming katuwang sa pangangalaga sa Subic Bay sapagkat ito ay karugtong na ng aming buhay.”

Meanwhile, SBMA Public Relations Department Head Armie Llamas said that the “Protect the Bay” project would also boost Subic’s tourism program and help push other stakeholders in the Subic Bay Freeport to join in protecting local marine resources.

Chan said that aside from conducting the seminar-workshop, RP Energy is looking at other activities that will be organized under the initiative.

These include the establishment of mangrove forests along the bay, the expansion of RP Energy’s giant clam farm, and the launch of Task Force Subic Bay monitoring group that will be composed of various community stakeholders. (Henry Empeño, Business Mirror)