October 11, 2010
Davao City – Urging Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his support for the coal power plant as proposed by the Aboitizes, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan warned of more disastrous effects in putting up what is known to be the dirtiest source of fuel.
“We urge the vice mayor to heed other sides of the issue. The Aboitiz can be very convincing as far as the vice mayor is concerned. There are opinions, however, that are completely opposed to the interests of the Aboitiz that have to weighed in this deliberation,” Bayan-SMR spokesperson John Birondo said.
“While the Aboitiz has yet to finalize its proposal, the worldwide campaign against coal power plants have already been rejecting such alternative of power source,” Birondo added.
“USA for instance, which holds the record of being the most polluted country in the world, has scrapped about two dozens of coal power plant proposals in majority of its states,” Birondo quoting a document from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Bayan reiterated the looming threats of climate change and global warming which could be worsened by the operations of Aboitiz-proposed coal power plant. “There is no assurance that the technology to be used can fully capture carbon dioxide emissions,” Birondo said.
Birondo stressed that the proposal carries with it very high health and environmental risks knowing the fact that coal is considered as the dirtiest source of fuel. “Evident experiences of such hazards were seen in some parts of the Philippines where there are existing operations of coal power plants,” he added.
Bayan noted that in Calaca, Batangas, people have experienced increases in respiratory ailments and difficulties in finding potable groundwater sources. They also complain of continuing noise and intermittent explosion-like noise, as well as extremely foul odor. Bleaching of coral reefs surrounding the coal plant in Masinloc, Zambales has been reported. Fishermen around the coal plants in Calaca, Masinloc, and in Naga, Cebu report diminishing fish catch. Communities near the coal plant in Pagbilao, Quezon experienced a 12-hour ash fall because of failure of the pollution controls of the plant.
“The environment and the people’s health should not be compromised in any thought of our local leaders to tap alternative sources of energy. We are warning the members of the City Council and the City government in general to act in consonance with the true interest of the people,” Birondo said.
“The implications of health and environmental damages are among the concerns of our oppositions. Along with these issues, we are against the projects of the Aboitiz companies as they are meant to grant them a monopoly of the power industry in Davao region,” Birondo emphasized.
Bayan stressed the coal power and hydropower plants projects of the Aboitiz-owned HEDCOR as an engagement to monopolize the power generation in the region aside from its transmission and distribution operations already being monopolized by the Davao Light and Power Company, also an Aboitiz-owned company.
“This manipulation of the Aboitiz is literally the face of Noynoy’s economic policy of “public-private” partnership. Through the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the Aboitiz is provided the leeway to tap our natural resources, not to provide social service, but to siphon huge profits,” Birondo said.
“The Aboitiz has never been concerned of the people’s welfare as they only want to enrich themselves at the expense of the toiling masses. They are lying about the brownouts in Mindanao to justify their hydropower and coal power plant projects,” Birondo added.
“When it is doubtful that power crisis really exists in Mindanao, it is deplorable to put the lives of the people in double jeopardy by allowing the Aboitiz to exploit the environment for its economic interests,” Birondo exclaimed.
“Right from the horse’s mouth, the Aboitiz intends not to keep lower power rate with the realization of the coal power plant. This is a huge investment on their part that would inevitably demand for a Return of Investment – a capitalist principle of siphoning huge profits,” Birondo added.
“Let us not be lured of the promises the Aboitiz will offer in exchange of the approval of the project. They lied about the real amount of DLPC’s power rate increase and they can lie more. Their greed for profit is insatiable and unstoppable,” Birondo said.
Birdondo added that like water, “electricity is basic and essential to human survival. Its sources come from nature which purpose is to sustain life and make its benefits freely accessible to the people.”
Bayan urged the people to be vigilant and to continue protesting the anti-consumer plans and actions of the Aboitiz.