Churches, environmentalists, and residents disapproves of the construction of a 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Atimonan town, Quezon province.
“We’re more on legal battle now,” Head of the Ministry of Ecology of the Diocese of Lucena Fr. Warren Puno was quoted as saying in a statement from Inquirer.
Puno also questioned the support of the local government unit (LGU) to the ongoing construction of the coal power plant at the coastal village of Villa Ibaba facing Lamon Bay.
“All the LGU tell us that aside from its support for the project, it cannot do anything anymore. But if they would do nothing, we will be the one to do something,” Puno was quoted as saying.
Puno joined the mobilization at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday to call for the cancellation of the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to the Atimonan One Energy (A1E) after alleged breaches of environmental and community education requisites.
In a statement, the protesters, composed of environmentalists, religious, and other sectoral representatives, expressed that the issued ECC to A1E in 2015 “clearly stated specific requirements,” citing certified true copies of permits issued by the DENR-Forest Management Bureau (FMB) and the Philippine Coconut Authority, Legal Counsel of the Power for People Coalition (P4P) Atty. Avril De Torres stated that tree-cutting and earth-balling permits required A1E to put up signs in strategic places to inform the public that the land clearing is authorized by the Environment Department, to which protesters swore they did not see such.
According to the report, A1E was allowed to cut nearly 3,500 coconut trees in addition to the thousands more trees of other species they were permitted to remove from 2016 to 2017. Power plant critics also hit A1E’s alleged lack of effort to ensure public participation in addressing the project’s possible environmental and social impacts.
“Perhaps A1E deliberately did not exert efforts to conduct a comprehensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) as they knew that the people will not stand back as they dirty our homes,” Puno expressed.
However, A1E staff stated that the firm has complied with all the pertinent ECC conditions.
Quezon Governor Danilo Suarez stated his support on the construction, citing that this is to ensure sufficient power supply in Quezon and nearby provinces and to help the country address its very thin power reserve against increasing consumption.