Green groups to CA: Uphold Writ of Kalikasan

PETITIONERS of a Writ of Kalikasan against the construction of a 2×300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Subic, Zambales today asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to help stop this illegal, dirty and dangerous project which would only endanger Subic’s ecology and communities.

A preliminary hearing was held at the CA earlier today to discuss the case filed against the project proponent, Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. (RPI), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

On July 20, 2012, environmental groups submitted a petition to the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the construction of the 2×300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Subic by RPI. The petitioners asserted that “the project violates 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.”

An initial victory followed as the SC issued a Writ of Kalikasan on July 31 after finding the writ sufficient in form and substance and referred the case to the Court of Appeals (CA).

Present during this morning’s hearing were Atty. Terry Ridon, legal counsel for the petitioners; leaders from Kalikasan Party-list; Representative Raymond V. Palatino; Subic councilors James delos Reyes, Jong Cortez and Lugie Lipomano; Gregorio Magdaraong of the Subic Bay Chamber for Health and Environmental Protection (SBCHEC); JC delos Reyes; No2Coal-Central Luzon alliance; Pamalakaya (Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas) Bataan fisherfolk leader Rudy Sambajon, Green City Advocates for Wildlife and Environment Protection Director Noraida Velarmino; and Subic-Olongapo Cancer Foundation Vice-President Charo Simons.

RPI has attempted to proceed with site development despite the protests of Subic Bay residents and green groups and the passing of two local government resolutions opposing the project. Olongapo Sangguniang Panglungsod Resolution No. 131 was passed in 2008 and the Olongapo Liga ng mga Barangay Resolution No. 12 was passed in 2011. The petitioners asked the SC to also grant the prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) to stop the ongoing site development.

Earlier this week, the DENR and RPI held a public hearing that was afterwards denounced by local residents as a sham, saying that not all of the important and biggest stakeholders—including residents, businesspeople, and local community officials—were invited to the event. Other stakeholders have also expressed concerns that the power plant’s smokestack will endanger aircraft flying into the free port zone’s international airport and pose a threat to aviation.

In a separate development, a shipping agency has recently been in hot water for dumping bilge water and domestic wastewater from US Navy ships into Subic Bay. Kalikasan Party-list expressed concern that similar incidents contamination of Subic Bay’s waters would occur if the coal-fired power plant pushes through.

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