San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has extended monthly cash assistance to more fisherfolk families, bringing to close to 2,000 the beneficiaries from the P500-million “Handog Tulong Pinansyal Para sa Mangingisda” program in the province of Cavite.
San Miguel Aerocity Inc. (SMAI), SMC’s airport unit, launched the financial assistance program recently as a follow up to the company’s monthly food supply initiative for over 8,000 fisherfolk families from Rosario, Tanza, Naic, and Ternate towns.
This is part of the company’s commitment to managing its social and environmental impacts following strict performance standards set by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for its New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project to be constructed in Bulakan, Bulacan.
Under the program, some 5,000 fisherfolk families will each receive a monthly financial assistance of P5,000 until the company’s operation in the area is completed by 2024.
Some 1,074 fisherfolk families from Tanza and 658 fishing boat owners were initially identified as eligible beneficiaries based on both third-party surveys and a selection and validation process by local officials and leaders of local fishermen’s groups.
SMAI’s separate Social Development Management Program (SDMP) include garment production and soap-making, scholarships for children of fisherfolk, and construction-based training in cooperation with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).
The company will also implement programs to employ affected communities or their family members at the airport project.
With the help of experts, SMAI will also implement programs such as site rehabilitation and restoration to minimize its impacts on the environments and further embed sustainability solutions to its operation in the area.
The company is also tapping a third-party organization that, in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), will study how to improve fishing yields from the shoal. This is to help bring up the volume of catch from the area following the completion of Boskalis’ activities.
Among other companies operating at the San Nicolas Shoal, only SMAI has so far undertaken food and cash support initiatives for affected communities as well as programs to rehabilitate areas following sand extraction activities.
“We are constantly in touch with local government officials, and concerned national agencies to ensure that all needed measures and assistance for affected fisherfolk communities are implemented immediately and consistently during our operations, and with further emphasis on mitigating the impacts to the immediate environment during and even after our operations,” said Ramon S. Ang, SMC President and Chief Executive Officer.
During the program also attended by Rosario Mayor Jose Voltaire V. Ricafrente, SMAI reminded fisherfolk communities to adhere to safety protocols during their fishing activities near the San Nicolas Shoal, where Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., a leading global marine engineering firm, is also undertaking dredging activities.
SMAI and Boskalis provided fishermen with safety equipment, including radar reflectors, life vests, life buoy rings, foam buoys, led lights, and rechargeable batteries.