Environment groups call on Duterte to end coal projects

fight vs coal
FIGHT VS COAL. Former Batangas City Councilor Kristine Balmes shared insights during the forum together with representatives of Piglas Pilipinas, on the struggles of fighting coal operations. Photo by AC Dimatatac

Piglas Pilipinas renew their calls to stop the proposed coal-fired power plant expansion project of JG Summit Holdings from 300-MW to 600-MW in Batangas

MANILA, Philippines (July 17, 2016) — Climate advocates are asking the Duterte administration to ban new coal-fired power projects and instead prioritize the national energy policy review that was launched by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) last month. 

Member groups of Piglas Pilipinas, a nationwide campaign for the Philippines to break free from fossil fuels, renewed their calls in light of the proposed coal-fired power plant expansion project of JG Summit Holdings from 300-MW to 600-MW in Batangas. The JG Summit is a holding company of the Gokongwei Group.

In the forum “Prospects for the Fight Against Dirty Energy Under the Duterte Administration,” they shared insights on the current anti-coal struggle in the Philippines.

Former Batangas City Councilor Kristine Balmes, who is also a member of the Lipa Archdiocesan Ministry for the Environment (AMEn), underlined the efforts of different sectors, including the Roman Catholic Church, in the ongoing struggles against coal projects.

“In Batangas City, a recent decision by the City Council has allowed the construction of a 600-megawatt coal plant near the Verde Island Passage, a center of marine biodiversity in the country and the world,” Balmes said.

“Despite this, the community as well as people from civil society and the Church, continue to be vigilant in its opposition against the project and has recently found an ally with the provincial governor who has vowed to oppose the project,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ian Rivera of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) noted that while there are 29 proposed power plants adding to the 15 already existing in the country, a number of significant developments have been achieved by the anti-coal resistance in the country.

The groups under Piglas Pilipinas are also hopeful that Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, being a pro-renewable energy advocate, will take action. The group calls on Lopez to support the direction of the CCC to subject coal projects for review under the new administration.

Private power generating companies have been moving to construct coal-fired power plants and expanding existing ones in many areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in the last 10-years.

In Iloilo alone, two new coal plants had become operational in 2010 and another one this 2016. All of these existing plants are up for expansion.

In Barangay Ingore in La Paz, Iloilo City, Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) – a subsidiary of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) by tycoon George Ty of the Metrobank Group – will start the operation of its additional 150-MW from its existing 164-MW coal-fired power plant this July.

On the other hand, another coal-fired power plant in Iloilo Province has also become operational June this year.

Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC) has started operating its 135-MW coal plant located in Barangay Puntalis in the municipality of Concepcion.

PCPC is set to generate a combined capacity of 405-MW of coal. It is set to expand by adding two more generating plants at 135-MW capacity, each as part of its three phase plan for Iloilo.

The PCPC is a product of a joint venture between Jin Navitas Resource Inc. of the Rebisco Group and Palm Thermal Consolidated Holdings Corp., an owned subsidiary by A. Brown Company Inc. – a publicly listed company engaged in power generation and renewable energy, agribusiness and real estate.

Both coal-fired power plant constructions in Iloilo City and Concepcion were met with strong opposition from local environment groups, non-government organizations and faith based institutions, yet it was able to proceed after provincial and national leaders approved the projects.

  by Ted Alwin E. Ong | Rappler.com