Embattled Narra mayor Gerandy Danao said he will no longer appeal his 20-month suspension before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and will instead seek legal reprieve directly from the Office of the President.
In a press conference Friday, Danao accompanied by his counsel slammed the SP ruling as “political harassment” owing to his being an independent and due to his position contradicting Capitol’s stance on issues such as the controversial coal plant in Narra and the planned division of the province.
The provincial board voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend Danao for most of his remaining term in office in connection with three administrative cases filed against him by his own vice mayor and town council officials.
Opposed to Coal Plant
Departing from his previous non-categorical stance on the planned 15MW coal fired power facility to be put up in Barangay Bato-Bato, Danao for the first time stated his stand against the controversial project that is actively being pushed by Capitol.
“Against po kami, ang pamilya namin, sa coal. Siguro kasama yan sa dahilan kaya tayo tinatamaan ng ganito,” Danao said. (We, my entire family, are against the coal plant. It is perhaps the reason why I am being hit.)
The power plant that is planned to be operated by the Consunji-owned DMCI Powers Inc. has faced local opposition from communities and environmental groups since 2013. It was initially to be put up in Aborlan but was blocked by the local community and a state university there, forcing the proponent to find another site in Narra.
The project was also stalled when former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez declared she will not issue an environmental permit. The succeeding administration of Sec. Roy Cimatu however eventually granted an ECC to the project, alongside a separate SEP Clearance permit issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
At the onset of his term, Danao hedged from granting local permits to the project saying he wanted to consult first with his constituents.
“Kung saan masaya ang tao dun tayo. At masaya ang tao kung walang coal, kaya doon tayo,” Danao said.
Danao declined to make a categorical stand on the planned division of Palawan into three smaller provinces, an initiative pushed by Capitol and supported by all political leaders allied with the administration.
“Kung para sa akin huwag muna nating intindihin ang 3in1. Mas maganda kung mabigyan muna natin ng pansin ang pandemic,” said Danao in response to a Palawan News question on where he stands on the issue.
“Baka kasi wala nang mangyayaring 3-in-1 dahil magkakaroon ng COVID ang mga botante. ‘Di ba hindi puwedeng lumabas ang mga senior citizens at ang mga bata, kaya paano magkakaroon ng botohan sa 3-in-1 kung may COVID pa?” he added.
Danao also linked his stance against a mining project in the town to his suspension.
During the hearings on the case, Danao accused his political detractors of planning to reinstate the suspended mining project of Citinickel Mining Corporation due to the company’s reported failure to pay its outstanding debt to the municipality.
Danao pointed out that the mining project was allowed by the local government after he was initially placed under “preventive suspension” in connection with his case.
“Noong ako ay masuspindi, dalawang araw pa lang ay tumakbo na yung minahan. Ang sabi ko, ‘Kung wala kayong utang sa LGU asan yung mga resibo? Kung bayad kayo, saan kayo nagbayad? Siningil sila ng previous admin ng P94-million. Hindi ko alam, tumakbo ang minahan ngayon, kung sila ba ay nagbayad sa LGU,” he said.