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Sorsogon dads ask EDC to redefine corporate social responsibility

Source: Philippines News Agency

SORSOGON CITY, Nov. 4 (PNA) – Irked by numerous complaints on the water pollution being rendered by the operations of the giant geothermal energy project here, the Sorsogon provincial legislative board is looking into the possible accountability of its operator over the reported environmental maladies.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) had passed over the week a resolution requesting Energy Development Corporation (EDC) to provide the Board an abstract of its corporate social responsibility to the province “for us to determine what reparations are expected for the damages incurred”, its author Board Member Vladimir Frivaldo on Friday said.

The resolution, Frivaldo said, is also calling the attention of the EDC on their social responsibility to protect and preserve the watersheds and provide livelihood to families in host communities affected by its operations.

EDC, a Lopez-owned company runs the Bac-Man (Bacon-Manito) Geothermal Production Field (BGPF) that generates about 120-megawatt power within the 250,000-hectare energy field covered by the territorial jurisdictions of this city and Manito, Albay.

The SP had received verified reports through Frivaldo that EDC had been ignoring the complaints of local fishermen and farmers whose farms and fishing ground have been affected by floods, landslides and alleged toxic fallout of the geothermal plant operations, the resolution said.

The farmers, it said, alleged that their farms are being destroyed by the pollution caused by the geothermal wastes that end up into Cawayan River, the main river channel serving a source of irrigation waters for the vast rice fields in at least six barangays here that are situated down the energy field.

Cawayan is a major river descending from the foot of the mountains playing host to the geothermal operations to the Sorsogon Bay, the main fishing ground for around 8,000 fisher folks residing around the Bay covered by this city and the municipalities of Casiguran, Juban, Magallanes and Castilla.

This fishing ground has been under siege by red tide for the past four years starting in 2007 virtually killing the P100-million-a-year “tahong” (green mussel) industry of the province. The fishermen have accused the geothermal operations as a contributory factor to the red tide phenomenon although it was downplayed by fishery authorities.

The SP is still confident that EDC will continue to undertake initiatives towards environmental protection and delivery of health and other social services to the host communities as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Nonetheless, Frivaldo said “we wanted to find out what exactly these social responsibilities are that is why this legislative measure entitled “Resolution requesting Energy Development Corporation to provide an abstract of its Corporate Social Responsibility to the province of Sorsogon” has been unanimously approved by the SP.

The resolution is also requesting the EDC to provide for an integrated inland, community-based resource and coastal management program which should be a comprehensive and long term undertaking in coordination with the affected barangays through the city government here as the prime mover.

The program would seek to manage the inland, upland, coastal and marine resources of this part of the province in the long term as well as help rehabilitate the Sorsogon Bay towards total recovery from the red tide infestation which economically displaced thousands of families that used to rely on the fishing ground for their livelihood, Frivaldo explained.

This program would also reduce the vulnerability of these families to the impacts of climate change, he added. (PNA)
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