MPIC, Aboitiz, SMC commit to conserve Verde Island Passage 

THREE of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates have teamed up to conserve the Verde Island Passage, a significant marine ecosystem in the country.

San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.  signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday.

The MoU covers a period of five years with funding from each of the companies, and will ensure Verde Island Passage and its nearby province will continue to thrive as a marine protected area.

The Verde Island Passage is a strait between Batangas and Mindoro Island noted for its high concentration of fish, coral, crustacean, mollusk, seagrass, and mangrove species, making it a leading biodiversity site.

The MoU follows a $3.3-billion deal by the conglomerates to set up an integrated liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Batangas.

This LNG partnership is expected to augment the country’s power supply with over 2,500 megawatts of generation capacity once fully operational.

“Right now, there have been comments about the greater danger that the  introduction of LNG would bring to the Verde Island Passage. But in the event of any accidents or spills, in contrast to an oil spill or spill of a cargo  of coal, LNG is in fact much safer because the liquified form evaporates and does not affect the marine environment,” Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said. 

LNG is being proposed as a solution to the country’s impending power crisis because the Malampaya gas field, the country’s sole indigenous commercial source of natural gas, is expected to start depleting this year.

The DoE has said it would increase the share of LNG in the country’s power mix under its Philippine Energy Plan to support the country’s energy security roadmap.

MPIC is one of the three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

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