The Philippines is endowed with abundant geothermal resources and remains in second position among the leading geothermal countries
in the world. The country’s installed capacity of 2,027 MWe is now being sourced from seven production areas, two of which were carved
from environmentally sensitive areas declared as national parks. Until the late ‘80s, development of geothermal areas in the country
was given government approval through issuance of Presidential decrees. On the other hand, The Mt. Apo project in Mindanao and the
Northern Negros project in Mt. Canlaon had to pass environmental certification procedures prior to start of the development phase.
Mt. Apo was developed as part of an energy diversification program in response to an impending power shortfall in the island of
Mindanao, which relied heavily on hydroelectricity. During that period, environmental groups, civic societies, non-government
organizations (NGOs) and religious clergy had been spearheading opposition to major infrastructure projects of government.
The development of the project was stopped in 1988 after the successful drilling of two wells. It was put to test because the
mountain was a national park, and it was considered the ancestral domain of indigenous tribes. Several legal, socio-cultural,
economic, environmental and ancestral tribal rights issues had to be resolved by all stakeholders. After 4 years of protracted
consultations and consensus building, an environmental compliance certificate was issued. The controversy associated with the
project became the reason for foreign funding institutions not to extend their loans and assistance. From its own funds,
PNOC Energy Development Corporation successfully commissioned the first 52 MW power plant in 1997. As the project had mastered
full support and acceptance of all stakeholders, its development would later become a model for future projects needing to undergo
deep environmental and socio-cultural scrutiny.