Thursday, March 25, 2010

Utility firm signs agreement with PBSP to plant 1M trees

Utility firm signs agreement with PBSP to plant 1M trees
Sun.Star Daily
March 24, 2010

By Elias O. Bacquero

The Visayan Electric Company (Veco) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to plant one million trees in the next three years.

The MOA was signed by Jaime Jose Y. Aboitiz, executive vice president and chief operations officer of Veco; and Jose Antonio Y. Aboitiz, PBSP chairman for the Visayas.

After the signing, Veco then turned over to PBSP a check worth P19.4 million to finance the tree-planting activities.

Ricardo F. Lacson, Veco vice president for administration, said the project is one of the most ambitious projects that Veco has undertaken.

He said the power distribution utility had long been committed to the sustainability of power resources, especially that power generators sourced 60 percent of power from renewable sources.

Lacson said Veco has been promoting energy conservation and even going as far as having their program of exchanging energy-saver Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) for incandescent bulbs.

"But this (tree-planting) truly represents a milestone for us. Our target is to plant one million trees here in Cebu within three years time," Lacson said.

However, Lacson, in an open forum said their tree-planting project is not mainly in relation to corporate social responsibility but a requirement from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in issuing environmental compliance certificate for Veco's transmission line project from Cebu City to Toledo City where they will get power supply from Cebu Energy Development Corp.

Lacson said that since the project started last year, they had planted about 50,000 trees in Busay, Cebu City and in Aloguinsan, Cebu.

"While it sounds that it is already a big number, we quickly realized that would be not enough to meet our target of one million trees in three years time. And so the search began for a partner and we are fortunate to have an experienced partner in PBSP Visayas," Lacson said.

This time, Lacson said, they are going to plant one million trees in two areas, first within a 540-hectare land in the Central Cebu Protected Land, and in the 10,000 hectare Mactan mangrove area.

"So, today we are going to witness the formalization of this partnership (Veco and PBSP) as well as the start of the project kick off and meet the target within the next three years," Lacson said.

Eileen Mangubat, publisher of Cebu Daily News and chairperson of the Cebu Hillyland Development Committee of PBSP, said that with this reforestation in the backyard of Cebu City and the coastal area of Olango Island (Lapu-lapu City), which is an international bird sanctuary, employees and residents are invited to join the activities.