Cebuanos charge public hearing requested by coal plant operator

HUNDREDS of members of progressive and environmental groups trooped to the City Hall of Cebu City to express their opposition to the proposed construction of a coal-fired power plant in Barangay Sawang Calero in just as a public hearing by the city council was taking place.

Sanlakas and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) brought with them a coffin to symbolize the adverse health impacts on the residents if the proposal pushed through.

The public hearing was requested by the Ludo Power Corporation together with its consultant Geosphere Technologies Inc. after the Committee on Environment led by Councilor Nida Cabrera initially declared that the project was “environmentally critical”.

“The city council maybe sending a wrong signal to its constituents. By considering the proposal of putting up another coal plant for the purpose of providing reliable but dirty energy supply for future investors in the name of progress is based on convoluted logic and a flawed concept of social development, said Sanlakas lawyer and nominee Aaron Pedrosa

Pedrosa argued that, “How can it be considered progress when only a few industrialists and investors shall benefit from it while the majority of Cebuanos will be placed at risk”.

He added that, “the scientifically established proof that coal plants have detrimental health effects on the communities surrounding it and its massive contribution to the climate crisis are enough for the people of Cebu to reject the project. The city council must once and for all get a shot of political will in order to swerve a way from a hazardous development path towards stewardship of natural resources and people-based development”.

The group used the demonstration to remind the city council of its three-year old commitment in form of a passed city council resolution supporting the demand for a moratorium on the establishment of carbon-intensive and fossil fuel based technologies in favor of transitioning to renewable sources of electricity.

Meanwhile Inday Olayer of PMCJ said that they plan to furnish members of the City Council copies of the recently published Greenpeace study in partnership with the Harvard University, PMCJ and local health non-government organizations.

Olayer cited from the study that, “air pollutants from currently operating coal-fired power plants cause an estimated 960 premature deaths each year and may rise up to 2,410, or more than double the current number of people dying from coal-related pollution in the Philippines. This is very alarming.”

Among the rallyists was Dadang Majo of Talisay City who has had first-hand experience of the economic impacts of coal combustion. Majo attested that since the commencement of the operation of the coal-fired thermal plant of Korea Electric Power Corporation-SPC Power Corporation’s plant in the City of Naga, seven miles away from her residence, “fish catch has rapidly declined”.

The groups pledged to untiringly challenge all arguments LPC executives and will mobilize more people to effectively amplify the voice of the hundreds of thousands of would be victims of coal combustion.