Subic Bay Freeport—Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. has conducted a forum here on turtle conservation under its Protect the Bay Initiative program.
The discussion, entitled “Lessons from PawiCare,” aimed to share the best practices on how the residents of La Paz, San Narciso, Zambales helped in the conservation of “pawikan” or sea turtles held at Harbor Point Ayala Mall here on Saturday.
PawiCare Hatchery is a sea turtle protection and conservation program in San Narciso, Zambales. It is currently managed by Katimpuyog Zambales, an environmental organization, together with the local government of San Narciso and the local fisherfolks called the La Paz Rangers.
“It starts with awareness. Our goal with the Protect the Bay Initiative is to promote environmental awareness by building a community of volunteers. There are already many efforts on the ground but there is need for greater synergy,” said Jason Gavina, RP Energy’s Corporate Social Responsibility Officer.
Protect the Bay is the company’s flagship CSR program on the environment, which aims to curb illegal fishing, promote environmental awareness, and establish sustainable livelihood for fisherfolks.
The forum speakers were San Narciso Mayor La Raine Sarmiento, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Ecology Head Amethya Dela Llana, and Antonio Foronda, Jr., a La Paz ranger and volunteer at PawiCare.
Some of the La Paz Rangers used to be pawikan poachers. Foronda discussed the journey of how they converted these poachers into sea turtle rangers.
“I hope we can learn more about the pawikan. When they are hatched, they are inches away from the surface. Hence, they need to push others up to survive. So, should we,” said Sarmiento.
As an offshoot of the forum, holding a Zambales-wide Pawikan festival was suggested by SBMA’s Dela Llana. Likewise, DENR CENRO Olongapo’s Atty. Marife Castillo supported the idea of deputizing other NGOs in geo-tagging of the sea turtles towards species preservation.
The forum was attended by Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Fisherfolk Association, Philippine National Bank, SBMA, Kabalikat Civicom, Rotary Club of Downtown Olongapo, and JCI Olongapo. The event was organized in partnership with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
RP Energy is the developer of a 2×300 MW coal-fired power plant in the Freeport Zone.