Residents and indigenous peoples (IP) communities in Narra town rejected Friday the 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant project of DMCI Power Corp., asserting it will have long-term damaging impacts to their environment.
They are also urging all Palaweños to support its rejection before it becomes too late.
Speaking in a media conference organized by the Save Palawan Movement (SPM), Tagbanua leaders Renato Tondan and Norlita Sevilla said their ancestral domain will be “heavily affected” also by the coal plant that will be constructed in Barangay Bato-Bato.
“Sa totoo lang po talaga ay hindi namin gusto ‘yan. Maraming maaapektuhan kapag natuloy. Ayaw namin sa proyektong coal dahil sisirain ang aming kagubatan at iba pang bahagi ng kalikasan. Papaano na lang ang mga susunod na henerasyon kung masisira lang ang kalikasan dahil dyan,” Sevilla said.
No to Coal Movement member Joel Pelayo, on the other hand, called on Mayor Gerandy Danao and other officials of Narra not to issue DMCI Power any permit to proceed with the construction of the coal plant.
Pelayo said he trusts Danao and believes he will not allow the coal plant to operate.
“Nanawagan kami sa ating local chief executive sa bayan ng Narra, alam namin na nasa tao ang puso niya. Totoo rin ang sinabi niya na hindi siya kasama noong pinirmahan ng Sangguniang [Bayan ang resolusyon] na nagpapayag sa coal,” he said.
On Thursday, Danao told Palawan News that he is not aware yet about the advantages and disadvantages of the coal project by DMCI Power.
Danao said he will consult Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez about the matter to make a decision.
In response, Pelayo said that they respect Danao’s statement.
“Wala naman tayong ibang masasabi doon, siguro respeto lang ang gustong mangyari ni mayor. Sa atin naman ay walang ibang ibig sabihin ‘yon kasi alam naman natin na hindi politically-motivated si mayor, alam namin na pakikinggan niya ang mga mamamayan,” Pelayo said.
He also called on Environment Secretary Cimatu to intervene and revoke the department-issued environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to DMCI Power.
Erwin Puhawan of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), meanwhile, said that DMCI Power’s ECC contradicts the Palawan Island Power Development Plan (PIPDP).
He said that Palawan has 500-megawatt (MW) renewable energy that can be used as an alternative instead of exposing the people of Narra to the ills of the coal plant.
He added there are around 29 existing coal-fired power plants in the country and more than 28 being proposed.
“Nagtataka nga kami kung bakit hindi ginagamit ng Palawan ang mga resources nito na mga renewable energy, napakayaman ng probinsya pero pinipilit nila ang coal. Based sa pag-aaral namin around 500 MW ang kayang i-produce ng Palawan. PMCJ is strongly supporting the move of the Save Palawan Movement para pigilan ang coal operation,” Puhawan said.
Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) and SPM convenor Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda also backs the position of the opposing communities in Narra, pointing out that it can produce renewable energy that is clean and safe for the environment.
“They can produce renewable energy, kaya challenge din ‘yon sa DMCI. Ang basehan namin sa pagpapakansela ay hindi nga nila mabigay ang 25 MW ang daming reklamo noong 2015 dahil halos araw-araw ang brownout tapos kinasuhan sila ng city. Dapat matingnan nila ang posibilidad na mag-shift,” Anda said.
Anda said PACE also have planned actions to express support to the National Day of Protest on September 24.