NARRA, Palawan – Pressure from his constituents continue to bear on Narra mayor Gerandy Danao to deny an operating permit to a controversial coal plant facility planned to be constructed in Barangay Bato-Bato.
Early Saturday morning, the No to Coal Movement in Narra conducted information, education, and communications (IEC) campaign in the town’s gymnasium. The event was attended by over a thousand residents from Narra and nearby municipalities like Aborlan and Puerto Princesa.
Mayor Danao visited the campaign and gave a brief speech. However, he has remained non-committal to what his final decision will be but posed for a picture with anti-coal protesters. He clarified that this gesture of posing for a photo does not mean anything.
The signature campaign against the proposed coal plant has reached over 9,000 signatures.
Also present in the IEC were Dr. Glenn Sopsop, head of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science (DFES) in Western Philippines University (WPU) main campus. He spoke of the negative impacts of having a coal-fired power plant in Narra, focusing on the health of nearby residents.
Della Tyrrell, a Canadian national also attended the campaign and shared her personal experience of having a coal-fired power plant in Ontario.
“We have natural dust from the soil. The dust where I live is black. That’s not normal dust, that’s dust from everything going up in the air, falling down and seeping into our homes and into our lungs.”
“My city has the most hospitals, they are specialized from people who come from all over the world. Do you know what we have? Man-made disease. Lung cancer. Allergies, many of our children have allergies,” she said.
“Nobody wants to live there, it is so bad. This is not just a TV movie that you watched, take it to heart. Take it from the experience that I’ve shared. The child who had lung cancer, that is real and those things do not have to happen. They are man-made disease.”
She encouraged the residents to stand up for what they believe in, “Use your power and your voice to stand for what is yours. If you do not speak, if you just sit back and expect it will go away, it will not.”
Meanwhile, outside the gymnasium, pro-coal advocates gathered at the Narra parkway. Over a hundred of them marched and held their placards, with some signs calling out the anti-coal group “Kampon ng Kadiliman” or forces of darkness.
Asked by Palawan News why they are lobbying for the coal-fired power plant, pro-coal protesters said they were “told not to speak” as it was meant to be a silent protest.
In a phone interview with Joel Pelayo, one of the conveners of the No to Coal Movement, he said that they will move on to the next steps, “By next week I will pass a formal letter in behalf of the movement to give the grounds not to issue a building permit.”
The movement also launched an online signature campaign against the coal-fired power plant as “requested by many who cannot personally sign the paper”.