Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) lambasted the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate to the proposed 15-megawatt coal fired power plant owned by DMCI Power Corporation, saying it renews once again threats of pollution and biodiversity loss in the country’s last ecological frontier.

“DMCI’s coal plant once again rises from the grave and raises the specter of toxic pollution threatening public and ecological health in Palawan. Coal is undeniably the dirtiest source of energy and has no place in the country’s most biologically diverse yet fragile ecosystems. Any new coal power plant established is also one step further towards a runaway climate crisis,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The island province of Palawan is a biodiversity haven that various experts note is home to 1,600 species of fish, 600 species of invertebrates, 500 species of coral reefs, 279 species of birds, and various other forms of life.

“The constant bombardment of particulate matter, coal ash waste, waste water, and other pollutants from coal power plants will gravely disrupt the balance in Palawan’s ecosystems. There is no such thing as ‘clean coal’ that can fully mitigate the pollution produced by coal, especially its climate-disruptive greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Dulce.

This is the fourth attempt to establish a coal power project in Palawan. Widespread protests, legal challenges, and scientific criticisms have been thrown at the proposal over the past decade, resulting in the stoppage of the project application.

The environment group condemned the move of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to designate the Palawan coal power project as an ‘Energy Project of National Significance,’ saying “clean and renewable energy sources should be the priority in environmentally critical areas.”

“The only reason DMCI is hell-bent on pushing for coal is because they need a dumping ground for their surplus coal reserves from their Semirara coal mine. The public health and environmental safety of Palawenyos is being compromised in the name of profit interests by DMCI and its collaborationists in the Palawan local government,” said Dulce. 

“Secretary Cusi should be held accountable for this latest instance of his dirty energy agenda as a coal apologist. Cusi and other public officials involved in these repeated attempts at railroading the Palawan coal plant and other dirty power projects must be investigated,” he ended.#

*Aiko Alejo*
*Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment09156067883