This was the reaction of Palawan Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez to the demand of an environment group to issue a public apology after he challenged a lawyer to a fistfight during last week’s meeting of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.
The Environment Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) demanded an apology after Alvarez dared Atty. Robert Chan of the Palawan NGO Network Inc. ( PNNI) to a fistfight.
The governor claimed that he felt “insulted” after Chan wrote two letters to the PCSD and not through his office as chair of the body.
Chan in his letters to the PCSD demanded that it explain to Palaweños why they issued a Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) clearance to DMCI Power Corporation proposed coal fired power plant in Narra town.
He also asked the province’ environment body to explain why they allowed the operation of Rio Tuba Mining in Bataraza and Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation in Narra despite that the areas are “core zones or restricted zones under RA 7611.”
Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda of ELAC said that as of press time they have not yet received a response from the governor.
“But, we are still hoping that he makes an apology,” Anda said adding that the Alvarez “should not acted that way as he is a public official.”
“It sends a chilling and terrifying effect to the people who were present,” she added.
Anda cited another case where the governor lost his cool in front of student of the Western Philippines University (WPU) in Aborlan town where he cut the scholarships of students that signed the petition against the proposed coal fired power plant.
“As a public servant he should have patience, proper attitude and knowledge,” she pointed out.
He should also learn how to properly deal with us in the NGO sector, she said.
Anda added that Alvarez should be “more concerned about protecting the province’ last remaining natural resources and the people than the interests of private investors.”
Meanwhile, Anda said the process should not be “railroaded” on the granting of permit to allow mining in Mt. Bolanjao.
“Just because the process may take time it should be rushed,” she said.
We are concerned that they are trying to circumvent the process, Anda said.
“Just because an application has been filed, anyone has the right to start their mining operations,” she said.
Anda said that the company with a pending application in the area has “already started operations in parts of Mt. Bolanjao which when allowed is expected to destroy 3,000 hectares.”
The mining operations is also expected to affect the water reservoir, she said.
Mt. Bolanjao located in Bataraza town is a protected area as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
According to the Mines and Geoscience Bureaus regional office, it is still a long way to go before RTNMC be granted MPSA. It also confirmed that there is no mining activity in the area that is subject of application for MPSA.