Protests against coal-fired power plants launched

ENVIRONMENTAL activists in Manila, Cebu and Iloilo under the multisectoral alliance Network Opposed to Coal Fired Power Plant (NO to Coal Power) had a coordinated action to protest the construction and operation of new coal-fired power plants in the country.

“Coal power is starting to become the legacy of the Aquino administration. If PNoy is to push for his projects that are vehemently opposed by local groups then it would be a proof of his failure to follow his mandate from the Filipino people who demand for a healthful environment and genuine development, said Meggie Nolasco , spokesperson of NO to Coal Power.

Nolasco cited that, “President Noynoy Aquino has already made known his all-out support to coal power plant project in the country. He has made no intervention to either stop or investigate the environmental and health effects of the soon-to-open coal power plants in Iloilo and Cebu.”

In Quezon City, a protest action in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was led by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

The protesters criticized the government for allowing Korean Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) to open a 200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Naga City, Cebu province on January 2011 and 164 MW in Iloilo City on December 2010, respectively. Both coal projects are facing strong opposition from environmentalists and consumer alike citing health and environmental reasons.

In Cebu City, fisherfolks and environmentalists conducted a protest action in the office of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Vince Cinches of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (CV-FIDEC) said that, “We are marking the end of Clean Air Month with a protest. The environmental and health integrity of Cebu jeopardized by the operation and wastes of coal fired power plants in the province. The provincial government and DENR continue to risk the health and safety of the people by allowing coal power operators to dump their toxic wastes to the environment.”

In Iloilo City, climate activists, Church people, and students led by Ilonggo Action Network on Climate Change (IANCC) held its protest in La Paz Plaza against PEDC coal power plant.

“We assert that the city government and the DENR should conduct a thorough investigation of the harmful fumes emitted by the plant and its adverse impacts on the surrounding communities and the marine environment before PEDC coal plant is issued the permit to operate,” said Geobelyn Lopez of IANCC.

The groups call on the national government to rethink its plan to open new coal power plants in the country saying that better options are available than the outmoded and dangerous coal power plants.

“The government, if it wants to, can provide the people with a clean and affordable energy without using imported, dirty and toxic coal fuels given the country’s abundant renewable energy sources. The construction and operation of new coal-fired power plant will only benefit the big foreign and private energy corporations while subjecting our people to pollution, illnesses, and high electricity rates,” Nolasco ended. D’Jay Lazaro

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