Environmental group calls for greater focus on renewable energy

The group Protect Verde Island Passage (Protect VIP) on Tuesday urged the government to reevaluate fossil gas development plans in Batangas Bay and accelerate the country's shift to renewable energy sources in order to protect the ecological hotspots and fishing grounds of the country. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, lead convenor of Protect VIP, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the country has immense untapped renewable energy potential. 'With 5.5 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy in progress thanks to the Green Energy Auction Program of the DOE, the potential for further growth exists if the government would prioritize its transition to renewable energy,' he said. He emphasized that there is currently an opportunity to replace fossil fuels as the primary means to produce electricity. 'We all want stable, cleaner, and more affordable energy for our consumers. Instead of looking into destructive and ecologically harmful fossil gas, we implore authorities to accelerate our shift to renewable energy sources,' he added. Gariguez emphasized that the shift is possible 'if the government prioritizes renewable energy and leaves gas behind.' In this regard, the Protect VIP also appealed for government support to the efforts to stop the ongoing land reclamation project for the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and power plants in Batangas Bay that is covered by the VIP. According to the priest, 'suspending the reclamation project in Manila Bay is a significant move because of the damages that these reclamation projects can inflict to our marine ecosystem.' 'The suspension should also open the conversation in suspending reclamation projects at the Batangas Bay due to the construction of fossil gas terminals at its shores,' he noted. Gariguez said 'although there are a lot of factors that can contribute to this massive decline of fish production, the gas terminals in its vicinity have a significant impact because it contributes to the destruction of marine habitats that act as fish breeding grounds and introduce toxic pollutants to its waters. Dubbed as the 'Amazon of the Ocean,' the VIP is the center of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world and the source of livelihood to millions of Filipinos. Gariguez noted that the Batangas coast 'is the 16th top fish producer in the country as of 2021… but it also recorded the third biggest drop from 2019 to 2021 across the country.' Meanwhile, in a message to PNA, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas expressed his 'full support' to the appeal of Gargiuez and his group

Source: Philippines News Agency