IMPROVING LIVES IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY

As poverty and underdevelopment persist in remote areas, families residing in these communities are struggling to have better living conditions and keep up with the changes around them.

This is one of the considerations of Atimonan One Energy, Inc. (A1E) as it embarks on the development of a new power project in Quezon province that will soon supply electricity for the Luzon grid.

Through its Carinay Relocation Project, A1E expects to improve the living conditions of the families residing in Sitio Carinay, Barangay Villa Ibaba in Atimonan town.

A1E partnered with Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation, Inc. for the relocation project, where a total of 47 households availed housing packages.

This number represents more than half of the 71 households occupying the proposed site of A1E’s project. The remaining families opted for self-relocation through cash compensation.

“Pagka’t mas malapit ang relokasyon sa sentro ng barangay, mas mapapalapit ang mga taga rito sa isa’t-isa at sa mga serbisyo na ipinapatupad ng barangay,” said Honorable Johnny Ambon, Barangay Chairman of Villa Ibaba. Makatutulong ito sa pagkakaisa ng barangay,” he added

Construction of the resettlement site will start soon and will go on until December 2016, hopefully the houses can be turned over in time for the Christmas so that the families can spend the holidays in their new homes.

In determining the resettlement process, A1E used a participatory approach to know what model suits the community best. Consultations started as early as 2012 after the initial information and education campaign (IEC) was completed.

In December 2012, the members of the community wrote a letter to A1E which indicated their “wish list” for their new homes. This was considered in crafting the resettlement plan for the beneficiaries, which will each get a 100 square meter (sq.m.) lot and floor area of about 30 sq.m. with facilities. After five years, the land title will be turned over to the residents to formally allow them to own the properties built for them.

Consultations with relocation beneficiaries are conducted on a regular basis in the host community.

A1E and Habitat are currently helping the community members organize themselves into a Homeowners Association, which will be registered with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) by June 2016.

But the project does not end at providing the homes. A1E will also provide access to employment, education, training and health care for the families.

The power plant project will generate jobs related to construction and allied services such as heavy equipment operators, drivers, masons, welders, laborers, electricians and engineers.

On top of this, there will also be a need for administrative staff, nurse, safety officers, foremen, and staff for security and catering services, and technical staff for plant operations.

At the peak of the construction, about 2,000 workers will be needed. Eventually, the construction of the power station is expected to create multiplier effects in the economy because it will create demand for food services, security, laundry, housing, transportation, entertainment and wellness.

Besides employment, a training program and TESDA accreditation was made available by A1E for interested members of the households that will be relocated to equip them with masonry and house painting skills, where a total of 30 residents enrolled.

One of the resettlement coordinators, Mr. Leonel Saniel, said: “Marami po akong natutunan sa mga training at konsultasyon na ginagawa ng A1E at Habitat para sa aming mga ililipat.”

The training provided by A1E and Habitat to the host community promotes gender equality.

This initiative addresses the labor requirements of the contractors and at the same time contributes to the socio-economic development of the project’s host community.

All these activities for the residents of Sitio Carinay bode well with earlier corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that A1E has been implementing in the host community.

Anchored on health, education, livelihood and environment, A1E committed to improve and contribute to the welfare of its host communities.

The company, since 2014, has been conducting an annual medical mission in Brgy. Villa Ibaba, which is located about 10km from the nearest hospital that would entail a two-kilometer walk or a 45-minute to one-hour boat ride.

The “Kaisa sa Pag-Aruga” Medical Mission for 2016 was held last April, where members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Rural Health Unit of Atimonan partnered with A1E to address the healthcare needs of the residents.

With the annual medical mission, A1E is able to draw the trend in the healthcare needs of the community.

The company also helps alleviate malnutrition in the community through its “Kaisa sa Nutrisyon” (KAIN) feeding program.

Another important aspect of A1E’s CSR initiatives is the scholarship program called “Kaisa sa Pagsasanay” (KASANAY). The project has since benefited five (5) scholars who underwent technical-vocational training in shielded metal arc welding and are now employed at Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. in Subic, Zambales. Nine scholars will be selected this year.

For the younger learners, A1E helped the barangay establish the first Day Care class in 2015. Through this cooperation, the community members need not go to other barangays to prepare children aged 3-4 for formal schooling. The barangay has one elementary school and no secondary school. A1E has been supporting Villa Ibaba Elementary School through various projects since 2013.

For the livelihood program, A1E partnered with the fishermen’s association of Villa Ibaba to install artificial reefs and payaos (fish aggregating devices) in Lamon Bay. This is complimented by the distribution of fishing supplies to the fisherfolks and seminar on safety at sea.

Members of the Fishermen’s Association of Villa Ibaba and Villa Ilaya install fish aggregating devices in Lamon Bay as part of A1E and Atimonan local government unit’s livelihod program.

A1E likewise supported the barangay government’s campaign in setting up vegetable gardens to augment the community’s income and source of food. A1E is currently in the initial stages of setting up nurseries in the community as it plans to participate in the National Greening Program of the Philippine Government under DENR.

A1E will continuously provide support to its various stakeholders through partnership in implementing social development programs aimed at uplifting the lives of the people of Barangay Villa Ibaba and Atimonan province.###

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Atimonan One Energy, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meralco PowerGen Corporation. It is the developer of an environment-friendly and state-of-the-art 1,200-megawatt supercritical coal-fired power plant in Atimonan, Quezon Province. The plant is expected to augment the power supply in the Luzon grid when it starts commercial operations.A