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Protests vs Subic coal plant continue

January 31, 2012 ·  By Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Protests vs Subic coal plant continue

Akbayan party-list congressman Walden Bello (center) displays 'dirtied hands' during the launch of the 'Ayaw namin sa Coal' campaign in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, where the group expressed their opposition against the planned construction of a 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Subic, Zambales, around 110-kilometers north of Manila. The group called coal-fired power plants as 'dirty energy,' causing pollution and health risks to communities. (Mike Alquinto/NPPA Images)

OLONGAPO CITY – An environment coalition in Subic staged various protest activities on Sunday to generate higher awareness against the planned coal plant project by a consortium of energy firms.

Alex Hermoso, lead convenor of the Zambales-Olongapo Civil Society Network, said issues raised about the coal-fired power plant project being pushed by RP Energy, a consortium of Aboitiz Power, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and Taiwan Cogen Corp., have reached the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“RP Energy is trying to secure an ECC (environmental compliance certificate) for their 600-megawatt project by just amending their ECC for a 300-MW project,” he said.

Hermoso said the coalition wrote the DENR questioning RP Energy’s move.

“Our argument is that they should start at the beginning, and go through the whole process of trying to get an ECC for the 600-MW plant they want to build in Subic,” he said.

To further voice the coalition’s opposition to the project, it held the Sikad Subic family fun run, poster-making and photography contests, open water swimming competition in Olongapo, and an artists’ night at the Subic Freeport boardwalk on Sunday.

Leaflets, brochures, tarpaulins and posters opposing the project were distributed and displayed throughout the group’s campaign in Olongapo and in the free port.

In August last year, more than 2,000 residents, local officials and members of nongovernment organizations braved heavy rains to protest the project and asked President Aquino to intervene.

The protests have also reached the social networking site Facebook, where a page dedicated to the opposition to the coal plant is supported by more than 5,000 people. Local governments have passed resolutions against the project.

Tourism operators in the free port and in communities surrounding the economic zone said pollution from the coal-fired power plant’s operation would ruin air and water quality in the Subic Bay area.

Jen Velarmino, organizer of the Kalikhasan 2012 Artists’ Night and spokesperson of residents in Subic, said that after the social acceptability consultation conducted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority was completed in December last year, they tried to ask RP Energy representatives to discuss with them their concerns.

“But they did not [meet us]. That firmed up our opposition,” Velarmino said.


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