AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People supports the call made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the governors of Batangas, Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon in declaring the Verde Island Passage (VIP) a protected area .
“This proposal to declare VIP a protected area is not only a measure to prevent future catastrophic oil spills, but also to protect this global biodiversity hotspot from destruction brought by coastal development projects,” said Jerwin Baure, public information officer of AGHAM. Currently, there are several major environmental issues in VIP, including coal-fired power plants and liquefied natural gas plants in Batangas . The DENR has also mentioned that there were a number of proposed development projects like submarine cable or pipe laying and jetty construction within the VIP as early as 2020 . Moreover, San Miguel Corporation also plans to build a “super bridge” connecting Batangas and Mindoro. “All of these projects are threats to the biodiversity of the VIP,” added Baure.
“In preventing future oil spills, the DENR and other concerned agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) must review policies on marine transportation,” continued Baure. “Large vessels carrying hazardous chemicals, such as large volumes of oil, must be prohibited from passing VIP, and an alternative route must be determined.”
The Verde Island Passage is a global biodiversity hotspot known for being the center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity . Given this, it is an important fishing ground in the Philippines that supports domestic food security and the livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk in coastal communities in the CALABARZON and MIMAROPA regions.
“In declaring the VIP a protected area, the DENR must ensure that the livelihood of fisherfolk will not be negatively affected. The protection of our marine biodiversity must also include the rights and welfare of fishing communities. Marine protected areas can still be meaningfully managed through proper involvement of stakeholders and end-users. We hope and challenge the different agencies tasked in protecting our environment in observing this as a precedent in protecting the valuable natural resources of our country for the benefit of the Filipinos, especially as we face the negative impacts of the climate crisis,” ended Baure.#
 PhilStar (2023, March 10). Gas expansion around Verde Island Passage increases risk of another oil spill — groups. https://www.philstar.com/…/gas-expansion-around-verde…
 Manila Times (2023, May 10) ‘Verde Island should be protected by law’. https://www.manilatimes.net/…/verde-island…/1890660
 San Miguel Corporation (2023, April 26) SMC, Oriental Mindoro in talks to build Mindoro-Batangas ‘super bridge’. https://www.sanmiguel.com.ph/…/smc-oriental-mindoro-in…
 Carpenter KE, Springer VG (2005) The center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity: the Philippine Islands. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 467–480. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-004-3154-4