Palawan civil society groups opposed to the planned coal-fired power plant in Palawan scored a small victory Tuesday, with the Regional Trial Court granting them a 3-day Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO).
The court’s action was prompted by a petition filed by a group of Narra residents and NGOs calling for a temporary restraining order on the 15-MW plant to be put up by DMCI Powers Inc. in Narra.
The TEPO, issued by RTC Br. 51 Judge Angelo Arizala, requires the project proponents to respond to the group’s petition, initiating another round of legal battle between proponents of the project and the anti-coal groups. The project had already secured an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the DENR and an Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
The petitioners were Merly Lagan, Juan De Asis, Ramilito Dacasan, Silvetra Dadison, Teofilo Tredez, Renato Tundan, and Manila-based environment think tank Center for Ecology, Energy and Development Incorporated.
In its petitioned also filed Tuesday, the group called for a stop to the controversial project by questioning the validity of the permits issued to it by government agencies. It also sought to stop acting Narra Mayor Crispin Lumba from granting any local permit to the project.
Among the respondents to the petition were the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region IVB, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), and the Mayor’s office of Narra.
The group held a press conference following the filing of their petition, calling for a stop to the project.
Cynthia Sumagaysay del Rosario, petitioner and Spokesperson of Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) questioned the capability and track record of DMCI and warned that the proposed coal plant will have a negative impact not only on the environment but also in the health of the people.
“Ang daming violation sa kontrata ng DMCI at ang kanilang dahilan ay kesyo ang linya dito sa Irawan ay palpak pero lumabas sa Senate inquiry na kahit okay pa ang lahat, ang DMCI ay hindi nagbibigay at hindi kayang magbigay ng kumpletong 25 megawatt ang kanilang naibibigay lang ay 14 megawatt na maximum na ng kanilang makina. Dapat hindi na dapat sila magkaroon pa ng chance na magtayo ng coal dito sa Palawan. Ang kaso na ito ay dapat magawa na,” she said.
Teofilo Tredez, one of the key petitioner, in a press conference claimed that the company failed to hold a proper consultation in the affected communities.
“I have been in the fight against coal for almost seven years, and I cannot recall any instance when DMCI or DENR involved us in their consultation processes. Proper consultation and education of all stakeholders is required in the approval of any coal project. How can an ECC be issued, much less a project implemented, when the proponent neglects even basic requisites like these?” Tredez said.
Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice pointed out that the coal plan project contradicts the current global practice of discarding coal based energy.
“We are already facing a worsening climate crisis which demands an immediate phaseout of coal and fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on its Special Report on 1.5 C calls for an immediate reduction of GHG emissions to avert catastrophic climate change by year 2030. This means that there should no longer coal fired power plants to be built and coal mining be phased out. DMCI has already done much damage to the climate and environment together with the many coal plants operating nationwide. This coal plant in Palawan must not be constructed or else it will further exacerbate climate crisis,” Rivera said.
Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda, executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) said that they are expecting to conduct full blown trial before December 25.
“Hopefully kailangan sila bigyan ng panahon para sumagot, sana magawa ‘yan not later than October. Ang tanong dyan ay halimbawa hindi dumating ang mga abogado nila ay may kunting delay pero kung delay inaasahan naming pero sana bago magpasko ay magkaroon ng hearing. Alam naman natin na ‘yong ganitong proseso ay matagal,” Anda added.
(With reports from Rachel Ganancial)