(4th from the left) Energy secretary Cusi during the inauguration of hybrid power plant at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi endorsed Palawan’s controversial coal-fired power plant project during his visit to Puerto Princesa City last week, arguing that the province needs it for its baseload electricity supply.

He also dismissed opposition to the coal plant as “lobbying” by foreign interests who want the country to get rid of coal.

Cusi said provinces like Palawan are “starving for electricity” and should not be aversed to coal because of its capacity to provide electricity without interruption.

Cusi was in town during the inauguration last week of the 2.6-megawatt first hybrid power plant at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan by the Sabang Renewable Energy Corporation (SREC).

“Ang problema natin, our country and this province are starving for electricity, for energy. So, kung ayaw natin ng coal anong gusto natin? If you want all renewable energy hindi naman pupuwede ‘yon. You cannot expect the performance [of renewable energy to be] like the traditional power plant kasi we need baseload. Sino mag-se-service sa atin ng baseload?” he said.

He described the opposition to coal plants as an agenda of foreign lobbyists pushing the country to do away with coal.

“Masyado kasi tayong na-influence by foreign lobbyists na bawal ang coal. The Philippines is a victim, bago nila sabihin na itigil ang coal sila muna ang tumigil,” he added.

Cusi said with or without coal, the climate change problem is not exclusive to the Philippines. Even countries that do not have it face the problem.

“Kahit di na tayo huminga rito, umutot… ‘yon pa rin ang problema natin, climate change, hindi ba? Sabihin natin sa kanila [foreign countries] kayo nga meron bakit kami wala?” he said.

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Jayra Joyce Cañete Taboada handles the law and order and the science and education beats. She is also a licensed professional teacher.