Batangas City — The city council of Batangas finally legislated the expansion on June 29, 2020 of the Pulong Bato marine protected area (MPA) located at Barangay San Agapito of Isla Verde from 14 to 539 hectares. Resolution 163 S. 2020 was unanimously approved to amend ordinance # 13 S. 2002 which declared the area as a fishery refuge and sanctuary in 2002.

The passage is a milestone for Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI), Isla Verde and Batangas City partners after over two years of social and legal process to expand the MPA which has become a popular dive site among diving enthusiasts. Isla Verde is located in the heart of the 1 million-hectare + Verde Island Passage (VIP) which has been declared the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world in 2005.

MFI signed a conservation agreement with San Agapito and the Batangas City LGU in 2015 to implement a comprehensive marine biodiversity and coastal resource management program to assist in the regeneration of its marine resources in the area. It includes diverse social interventions and scientific rehabilitation and monitoring methods over a period of eight to nine years.

The community and MFI celebrated the legislated expansion with a conduct of food relief distribution for COVID, distribution of fruit-bearing tree seedlings and release of livelihood support for the partner community organization’s eco-tourism enterprise on July 16, 2020.