Calapan, Oriental Mindoro – The provincial government of Oriental Mindoro (PGOM) and Malampaya Foundation (MFI) renewed its memorandum of agreement yesterday for partnership and cooperation on marine biodiversity conservation, livelihood, social enterprise development, disaster preparedness and other support programs for coastal communities in the province.

The provincial government was represented by Governor Alfonso Umali and provincial administrator Nelson Melgar, while MFI was represented by its chairman Rufino Bomasang and Executive Director Karen Agabin.

The PGOM and MFI have been partners on various social development programs since 2007, including skills training, employment generation and education-related programs. In 2013, it forged a partnership for an ambitious and complex grassroots-based marine biodiversity conservation program to help in the protection, conservation and regeneration of critical coastal and marine habitats to benefit fisheries, among others.

Among the main outcomes of the partnerships is the establishment of some 250 hectares new marine protected areas (MPAs), formation and forging of 18 conservation agreements, improvement in the management of existing MPAs, improved environmental law enforcement, increase in awareness and knowledge of the marine and coastal ecosystems through community and school education campaigns, strengthening of MPA management councils and improvement in monitoring of reefs and coastal ecosystems.

Gov. Umali congratulated the MOA beneficiaries and thanked MFI for its continuous support in the development and conservation efforts in coastal areas of his province as he reiterated the shared vision of Oriental Mindoro with the MFI’s approach in marine biodiversity protection. “I believe that the provincial government and MFI are negotiating the same path in enhancing the sustainable conservation and management of coastal and marine resources of the province which is heavily dependent on agri-fishery resources and tourism”, Gov. Umali said.

Bomasang for his part, has praised the active participation of every stakeholder as he pledged to continue working with the province of Oriental Mindoro and the various local governments and select communities from north to south in fostering self-help among communities.

“The process of ensuring our interventions are sustainable and it takes a long time and will never be possible without the working and fruitful partnerships with local governments and grassroots communities,” Bomasang emphasized during the MOA signing ceremony held at Tamaraw Hall of the provincial capitol in Calapan City.

Agabin said in her speech that MFI actively supports the national government policy framework in promoting sustainable development of the country’s coastal marine environment and resources in its thrust to achieve food security, poverty alleviation and reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards while preserving ecological integrity. She added that the MOA is also in consonance with presidential executive order No. 578 which mandates the protection and conservation and sustainable use of the biological diversity in VIP Corridor and Executive Order No. 533 which ordains that Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) and related approaches, such as coastal resource management or coastal zone management, be the national government policy framework to promote sustainable development.