In a nationwide celebration of Reclaim Power Campaign today, the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) reiterated its campaign for a coal-free Palawan.
In a press conference today, the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI) cited three reasons why they are again alarmed on the issue of coal in the province. First is the news that Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, a supporter of the previously lobbied coal project in the province, was able to pass DENR’s recent mining audit. Second is the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte in the recent inauguration of a coal project in Mindoro, and third is the increasingly frequent power outage in Palawan.
Early this year, DMCI Power Corporation has also pursued its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) application for a coal-fired power project in Narra, Palawan. The said application is currently pending in DENR.
It can be recalled that DENR Secretary Gina Lopez made a pronouncement when she visited Palawan in July that no ECCs will be issued for coal-fired projects. Atty. Grizelda Mayo Anda of Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) said that while they are happy with the Secretary’s announcement, they cannot simply be complacent. “Eh hindi lang naman kasi DENR ang kausap natin dito, may PALECO, may DOE,” she pointed out.
Anda further explained that they can only be assured of a coal-free Palawan if the power service agreement (PSA) of PALECO with power providers will be revised to particularly omit coal as power source option in the province. She also underscored the importance of formalizing the pronouncement of Secretary Lopez by issuing a moratorium order for the non-issuance of ECCs to coal-fired power plants that are currently in the pipeline, including those that might be established in Palawan.
Meanwhile, some residents of Iraan, Aborlan are worried that the existing construction of a bunker C power plant by DMCI in their area may be converted into a coal project, said Tomas Kutat of SAFE or Save Aborlan from Evils. He said that the project did not go through a public consultation and hence was able to escape their scrutiny of its real nature and status.
Frontliners of PACE joined the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMJC), along with other advocates, communities and civil service groups in the country, in asserting the right to development using clean and affordable energy.