The year 2022 showed steady recovery from the impacts of Covid lockdowns, especially for some of our socio-economic improvement programs. Our marine conservation partnerships likewise continue to make consistent progress with regards to conservation management and biological improvements. However, as I deliver this report today March 15, 2023, we are in the midst of supporting oil spill response in south Oriental Mindoro which has negatively impacted some of our conservation sites in the province, particularly in the municipality of Pola, where thick sludge landed from the spill site of the sunken oil tanker.
MARINE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
In 2022, our marine biodiversity conservation program was awarded “Best ESG Campaign to Prevent Marine Pollution” by UNICEPTA & Co., an international award recognizing excellence in CSR and contribution to the U.N. Sustainable Development goals. Our site in Bulalacao, Coron in Palawan was likewise accorded “Best Locally-Managed Marine Protected Area (MPA)” in Palawan at the province’s 2022 Pearl Awards.
Our 37 active conservation agreements cover 337,206.5 hectares in 39 sites spanning the areas of north Palawan, east Oriental Mindoro and Batangas City. From 2013 to 2022, we have recorded an average 73.71% increase in the abundance of target reef-associated fishes and 43.1% increase in live coral cover in our monitoring stations. Across all sites in 2022, a total of 17,654 trees were planted comprised of mangroves, beach forest and watershed species. In reaching the next generation, 221 youths were educated at our environment youth camps which finally resumed after two (2) years of hiatus due to Covid restrictions. Our support to partner community People’s Organizations members is continuous through capacity-building and incentives, most especially the volunteer (un-armed) bantay dagats who risk their lives to protect MPAs from illegal intrusions.
The String of Pearls Project suffered a major setback in 2022 in view of typhoon Odette in December 2021, resulting in mortalities of all juveniles and breeders in the hatchery when the typhoon hit. The hatchery was only able to resume operations in April 2022. The Coral Rehabilitation Research continue to show encouraging high survival rates ranging from 28%-50% across all blasted reef sites in El Nido, Linapacan and Coron.
MFI is also engaged in large-scale fisheries conservation efforts of the national government having been designated as the Scientific Advisory Groups (SAG) NGO representative for Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 5 and FMA 12 Management Board alternate representative. Both FMAs cover a total area of about 52.2m hectares. Decent gains included the drafting and finalization of the implementing rules of FMA 5,and the FMA 12 Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management Plan (EAFM). MFI as an NGO representative to the Committee on Economically-Important Species of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) played a key role in the development of a criteria for the establishment of the list of economically important species for Terrestrial and Aquatic Flora and Fauna in the province which was approved by PCSD through Reso. No. 20-752. MFI is also the only NGO member of the Protected Area Suitability Assessment Team of the Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape (MSPLS) wherein we were the key advocate to retaining a significant parcel of marine waters within the boundaries of the national park.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS
The Bridging Employment through Skills Training (BEST) program produced 1,016 graduates in 2022, bringing to 11,225 the total number of vocational scholars from 2007-2022. Hiring pace has returned to normal and employment levels remain at an average of 85-95%. Self-employment generation programs SIKAP and Project GANDA capacitated 156 and 260 respectively. From 2013-2021, SIKAP has trained a total of 6,569 trainees and 4,745 for Project GANDA.
We have 117 ongoing micro-enterprise projects supported under Enterprise for Conservation, involving 37 conservation-partner People’s Organization with a total 1,274 members throughout Palawan, Batangas and Oriental Mindoro. There are many challenges in this area as well as best practices. Challenges include severe fluctuation of market prices and Asian swine flu for those in animal raising, and ningas cogon attitude in a few areas. Best practice includes those in eco-tourism, some of which have recovered from pre-pandemic levels. In early December, we have recorded nearly P415,000 in conservation funds from net earnings of the enterprises for use in direct conservation actions. It is also apparent that the communities with marginal performances on their enterprise projects are the ones who are most active and effective in their conservation initiatives making MFI’s investments in these areas more valuable.
The Punlang Katutubo Native Tree Nursery where we propagate and nurture important indigenous and/or endemic Philippine tree species that are either critically-endangered, endangered or threatened, produced more than 14,230 new seedlings in 2022. Of this number, 7,694 seedlings were deployed for reforestation and green-scaping in different areas in Batangas province. The Malampaya Clinical Laboratory operated by our partner Philippine Red Cross-Batangas Chapter logged a service count of 679 for the free doctor consultations, 745 for laboratory services, and 147 for the medical mission held in Barangay Cuta, Batangas City.
We signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Adventist Hospital of Palawan in Q3 last year to put in place support for emergency response for Malampaya’s operations in north Palawan which comes with a charity program for Palaweño indigents. We renewed agreements to revive the Malampaya Sustainable Development Scholarship with Palawan State University and Batangas State University for engineering, geology and environment management degrees. We likewise started work on a renewable energy program which includes the establishment of decentralized solar micro-grids in off-grid locations close to Malampaya’s areas of operation.
There is still a lot to look forward to insofar as helping Malampaya’s fence line communities and impact areas are concerned, especially now that Prime Energy has come onboard the joint venture with growth plans for the near future. To God be the glory!
RUFINO BOMASANG (signed)
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Malampaya Foundation Inc.