Green groups, locals laud high court’s Writ of Kalikasan vs. Subic coal plant


MANILA – Green groups, local businesses and officials hailed the Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court this week against the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Subic,Zambales.

The SC en banc released a resolution dated 31 July 2012 issuing a Writ of Kalikasan against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, Subic May Metropolitan Authority and Redondo Peninsula Energy (RPI), referring the case to the Court of Appeals.

KalikasanPartylistsaid it is“an initial victory.” Residents, green groups, local businesses and officials have already passed several resolutions objecting to the building of the P56 billion coal-fired power plant. These objections include the Olongapo Sangunniang Panglungsod Resolution No. 131 issued in August 2008 and the Olongapo Liga ng mga Barangay Resolution No. 12 issued in August 2011.

Despite all these earlier objections, the Redondo Peninsula Energy (RPI) pressed ahead with site development to build the 2×300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant. These prompted the filing in July 20 of a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan against the project.

Led by the Kalikasan Partylist and Kabataan Partylist,the groups that opposed the project include the No to Coal-Central Luzon alliance, other legislators, local government officials, residents of Subic, Zambales, Olongapo and Bataan, the Subic Bay Chamber for Health and Environmental Conservation, and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

“This is an initial but significant victory for the petitioners. With the Supreme Court finding the writ sufficient in form and substance, the burden of showing that the coal plant should still be pursued has shifted to RP Energy and the government agencies that issued its permits,” said Terry Ridon, legal counsel for the petitioners.

“The Writ of Kalikasan granted by the SC is a positive and welcome development. We now ask the SC to issue a Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) to immediately stop the plant construction in the soonest time possible. We fear that the gains achieved through the Writ of Kalikasan will be in vain if there is no corresponding TEPO,” Clemente Bautista, president of Kalikasan Partylist, said.

The petitioners asserted that the coal-fired power plant would violate the Constitutional rights of the residents of Zambales and Bataan provinces to a balanced and healthful ecology as well as provisions in the Local Government Code and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. They emphasized that the Central Luzon region will be at risk for more pollution and disasters if this coal-fired power plant is allowed to operate.

The petitioners also asked the Supreme Court to grant their prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), which can stop the ongoing site development of the coal-fired power plant.

The petitioners are Kalikasan Partylist President Clemente Bautista Jr., Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro A. Casiño, Kabataan Rep.. Raymond V. Palatino, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emerenciana de Jesus, Olongapo Vice Mayor Rolen Paulino, Green City Advocates for Wildlife and Environment Protection Director NoraidaVelarmino, Wildlife in Need Director Bianca Espinos, Subic-Olongapo Cancer Foundation, Inc. Vice President Charo Simons, Pamalakaya Chairman Emeritus Rodolfo Sambajon, Rev. Fr. Gerardo Gregorio P. Jorge, John Carlo de los Reyes, Olongapo City councilors Eduardo Piano, James de los Reyes, Aquilino Cortez Jr., and Sarah Lugerna Lipumano-Garcia as well as Ligangmga Barangay President Carlito A. Baloy.

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