SC issues Writ of Kalikasan vs Subic coal plant

GREEN group Kalikasan Partylist today claimed an initial victory after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a Writ of Kalikasan against a proposed P56 billion 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.

The petition for a Writ of Kalikasan was filed last July 20 to stop the construction of the 2×300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant. RPI has proceeded with site development despite the protests of citizens, green groups, local businesses and officials who have already passed several resolutions objecting to the project (including the Olongapo Sangunniang Panglungsod Resolution No. 131 in August 2008 and the Olongapo Liga ng mga Barangay Resolution No. 12 in August 2011.)

It was filed by Kalikasan Partylist and Kabataan Partylist together with 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).

The petitioners included Kalikasan Partylist President Clemente Bautista Jr., Cong. Teodoro A. Casiño, Cong. Raymond V. Palatino, Cong. Rafael Mariano, Cong. Emerenciana de Jesus, Olongapo Vice-Mayor Rolen Paulino, Green City Advocates for Wildlife and Environment Protection Director Noraida Velarmino, 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 Liga ng mga Barangay President Carlito A. Baloy.

“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 Atty. Terry Ridon, legal counsel for the petitioners.

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

“The Writ of Kalikasan granted by the SC is a positive and welcome development. We now ask the SC to issue a 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,” Bautista asserted.

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, stressing that the Central Luzon region will be at risk for more pollution and disasters if this coal-fired power plant is allowed to operate.

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