Palawan prelate opposes coal plant

Bishop Socrates Mesiona, the Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Princesa, is seen in this file photo leading a tree planting activity on Mt. Mantalingahan in southern Palawan. (Photo courtesy of Katya Santos)


Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the apostolic vicariate of Puerto Princesa has expressed “deep concern” over the plan to put up a coal-fired power generating facility in Palawan, saying it will harm the environment in the country’s “last ecological frontier”.

In an article published by the Vatican News on August 1, Mesiona called on government to reconsider the granting of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the project, because of its possible dangerous effect on the environment.

“We appeal for a reconsideration to balance economic progress with the integrity of creation and the common welfare of our community,” Mesiona was quoted by the story in saying.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued the ECC to the DMCI Power Corporation (DMCI Power) on June 17, 2019.

EMB regional director Atty. Michael Drake Matias said part of the decision to grant the ECC was because the Philippines has no law that prohibits coal plants.

Mesiona said the granting of ECC for the 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant as part of its 25-megawatt contract with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) can have long-term damaging effects to the last frontier that “still retains more than 50 percent of its original forest cover and harbors vast stretches of old-growth forests.”

He said that as the last frontier, the province deserves to be taken cared of as a “God-given ecological home”.

Mesiona said government leaders should “look into it from the vantage point of a long-term effect, on the basis of objective truth, and the common good.”

The apostolic vicar’s concern on Palawan’s environment is in line with the Vatican’s mission to protect the environment as called by Pope Francis in his “Laudato Si”.

The article noted that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a pastoral letter urgently calling for ecological conversion in the face of climate emergency”.

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