THE Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) is setting aside P320 million for projects that will benefit its host community this year.
The amount is higher by 75 percent compared to the P186 million it spent last year.
Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez, a known antimining and anticoal advocate, chided SMPC for allegedly raking a huge profit while causing people in its host community to suffer because of the environmental degradation caused by its operation on Semirara Island.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had also issued a show-cause order against SMPC for various violations of the terms and conditions of its environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
The DENR had so far issued show-cause and cancellation orders to at least 10 companies as part of the industry-wide audit of ECCs.
Lopez, who visited Semirara, said the company was dumping ash along the coastline of Semirara, threatening the integrity of the coastal environment.
Semirara Island’s residents rely on fishing and their coastal environment for food and livelihood.
In a statement, SMPC President and COO Victor A. Consunji said the allocation for communities this year is in line with the company’s 5Es program, which aims to reduce poverty and facilitate development in its host community using a sustained, holistic approach.
“We expect our CSR spending to grow by around 75 percent compared to last year’s P186 million, because we are building more community infrastructure and livelihood facilities,” he said.
The majority of the planned expenditure, or about P200 million, will be used to construct community and livelihood facilities, such as evacuation centers, community park, sea port, river walk and sports facilities.
Another P65 million will be spent on environmental stewardship projects, which include the establishment of a Semirara Biodiversity Center and progressive inland and mangrove area reforestation. The rest of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget will be used to fund community nutrition initiatives in Calaca, Batangas.
“We are closely working with the Department of Energy and the host communities to ensure that our CSR efforts are aligned with the national and local government’s priorities. We want to implement projects that best respond to their needs,” Consunji said.
The SMPC 5Es program includes initiatives that address education and training; environmental stewardship; employment and livelihood; electrification and basic infrastructure; and emergency preparedness.
In 2015 the 5Es program of SMPC became a finalist under the CSR category of the prestigious Platts Global Energy awards, touted as “the Oscars of the energy industry”.
SMPC is the only power producer in the Philippines that generates its own fuel. It produces over 800 MW of baseload power for the Luzon grid.