Joel Pelayo, convenor of the No to Coal Movement appearing at the Question Hour of the Narra Sangguniang Bayan session.

NARRA, Palawan – This town’s No to Coal Movement convenor Joel Pelayo was summoned Monday by the Sangguniang Bayan to its regular session to explain why he criticized vice mayor Crispin Lumba during an information drive on October 12 and the alleged unauthorized use of photos of pro-coal municipal councilors in their awareness campaign prints.

The invitation for Pelayo to attend the question hour of the Sangguniang Bayan was initiated by Barangay Bato-Bato chairman and ex-officio municipal councilor Ernesto Ferrer, a pro-coal advocate, during a privilege speech on October 14.

Ferrer said that Pelayo has no right to criticize Lumba and the Sangguniang Bayan members who endorsed the DMCI Power’s coal-fired plant.

He also said that they did not give permission to the No to Coal Movement to use their photos on its campaign prints which were posted in different areas in Narra.

In his explanation, Pelayo defended himself and the No to Coal Movement, stating they did not violate any law and that the issue “is a public concern and that people have the right to information.”

“Nais lang po naming maipakita sa taong bayan ng Narra kung ano po yung katotohanan patungkol po sa mainit na usaping ito,” he said.

He said that it was part of his task to discuss how the issue of the coal plant began, who endorsed it from the Sangguniang Bayan, its current status, its flaws, and deficiencies.

“Parte ng usaping na-assign sa akin na talakayin at ipaliwanag kung papaano nagsimula ang usapin ng coal sa bayang ito. Gayundin ang usapin kung papaano na-endorso ito at kung ano na ang status ng proyekto sa ngayon,” he said.

Ferrer also reacted to comments and name-calling he said he received from anti-coal protesters and netizens on Facebook.

“Hindi siya maganda at hindi na kailangan sabihin yun dahil personal na yun,” Ferrer said.

Pelayo said that it was beyond his control as everyone has their own opinions. However, he promised to lead and remind his fellow anti-coal advocates to be mindful of the comments they would post online.

Meanwhile, Indigenous People’s representative in the Sangguniang Bayan in Narra, Joel Limsa said his endorsement on the coal-fired power plant does not signify the decision of the IP community as a whole.“Hinihintay po natin yung tamang pagkakataon, magka-conduct po ng free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) ang mga katutubo. Kung majority ng mga katutubo ay hindi gusto yan, sa tingin ko ay hindi yan matutuloy,” he said.

By the end of the question hour, Pelayo called on the members of the Sangguniang Bayan to lead in stopping the proposed coal plant “because the majority of the people don’t want it.”

“Kami po ay nananalangin na yung nangyari noong 2013 ay mangyayari muli ngayong 2019,” Pelayo said in closing pertaining to the success of cancelling the proposed coal-fired power plant in Panacan, Narra that year.

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is part of Palawan News' editorial team. Among her writing interests are political and governance and the environment.