Friday, March 26, 2010

VECO, PBSP sign accord to plant 1 million trees

VECO, PBSP sign accord to plant 1 million trees
Manila Bulletin
March 25, 2010

CEBU CITY (PNA) — The Visayan Electric Company (VECO), Metro Cebu’s lone power utility firm, has 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.

Founded in 1970, PBSP is a consortium of corporations advocating corporate social responsibility (CSR) whose overall purpose is to pool their resources to fund a program of organized professional and sustained assistance. First of its kind in Southeast Asia, it was started during a period of extreme strife by a group of Filipino businessmen who decided to share their experience, technologies, and expertise in making a difference in the lives of the poor. Then, as now, PBSP member-firms pledge to set aside a portion of their companies’ net income before taxes to pursue poverty alleviating programs.

Since its founding, PBSP has been the Philippine business sector’s vehicle in delivering organized, professional and sustainable assistance to landless farmers, fisher folk, rural workers, urban poor and indigenous cultural communities.

Rising above traditional charity and welfare approaches, PBSP promotes the philosophy of efficiency, self-help and participation in the improving living conditions among the underprivileged sectors. It is, today, the Philippines’ largest corporate-led social development foundation.

Regarding aforementioned MOA, the VECO has turned over to PBSP a cheque for P19.4 million to finance said tree-planting activities.

Ricardo F. Lacson, VECO Vice-President for Administration said the project is one of the most ambitious projects that the power distribution utility firm has undertaken.

He said VECO had long been committed to the sustainability of power resources, especially since power generators source some 60 percent of power from renewable sources.

Lacson said VECO has long been promoting energy conservation, going as far as putting up a program of exchanging energy-saver Compact Flourescent Lamps (CFLs) for incandescent bulbs.

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

However, in an open forum, he said that VECO’s tree- planting project is not only in relation with its own CSR program but also a requirement by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in exchange for issuing an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for VECO’s transmission line project from Cebu City to Toledo City where it gets power from the Cebu Energy Development Corp.

Lacson said that since the project started last year, VECO has already 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 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 found an experienced partner in PBSP Visayas," Lacson said.

He said VECO and PBSP will be planting one million trees in two areas, first within a 540-hectare land in the Central Cebu Protected Landscape, and in the 10,000-hectare Mactan Mangrove area.