Lives area at Risk, Step up your Game: Group told Environment Secretary

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) expresses grave concern on the performance of Secretary Roy Cimatu for his negligence in addressing the environmental and social problems caused by coal proliferation. In his recent statement, Cimatu vowed to monitor all operating coal plants and to conduct tests on its impacts. However, according to PMCJ, despite the existence of scientific studies like of those spearheaded by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the secretary was not able to conduct follow-through investigations.

According to the BFAR study conducted in the areas of Lamao, Alangan, Barrio Luz, NPC Site, Kitang-Landing, WAPOBRE, SF1-SF3 and Saay in Limay, Bataan, Total Oil and Grease in the water samples are found within the regulatory limit. Moreover, fish samples, locally known as Babansi and Malacapas, both collected from Alangan, were found to have high levels of Total Chromium, Cadmium, and Mercury exceeding the tolerable limit.

“It’s about time our secretary gathers this entire shambles and fixes his priorities. If he can dig the mining suspension orders he just recently overturned, why can’t he review these significant studies on the impacts of coal?” PMCJ National Coordinator Ian Rivera said. “People in the coal areas are in danger but it seems that our secretary has been very busy catering to the interests of the businesses,” Rivera added.

The said study also recommended that there must be precautionary measures to be imposed in the said areas.

“The first thing that we expected from him when he replaced Lopez from the post was to continue the developments and reforms achieved during her short-lived term but he is doing otherwise,” Glenn Ymata, Energy Program Officer of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice said. “With these studies as our bases, we are running out of time. The impacts of coal proliferation is not only killing our people in coal-affected communities but also devastate their livelihood and worsen their way of living,” Ymata added.

“From what he has been doing so far, his interests on regulation is not guided by genuine protection of the environment.” Rivera added.

PMCJ recently filed a Supreme Court case together with individuals from Bataan and other coal-affected areas against DENR and DOE for allowing coal to proliferate in the country despite the existence of Clean Air Act and Renewable Energy Act.