By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — Residents and groups opposing the construction of the coal-fired plant in Sual town in Pangasinan reiterated their position on why the facility should not be allowed to push through.
The Save Sual Movement (SSM) on Thursday, December 20, expressed their disapproval on the proposed installation of the Pangasinan Coal Power Plant Project (PCFPP) in a gathering called by the proponent Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) Philippines.
According to the invitation sent by Kepco, the information, education and communication activity on the project intended “to inform the affected local government units and stakeholders of the project.”
Also, Kepco aimed to maximize the occasion to “assist the [environmental impact assessment] preparer and proponent identify the stakeholders” they will invite for the public scoping.
Besides the village officials and residents of Sitio Mangas and Baquioen, the site for the plant, representatives from Kepco, the office commissioned to do the EIA Technotrix Consultancy Service, Inc attended the activity. The health and education departments, municipal government and from Team Energy, current operator of the existing 1,200-MW coal-fired Sual Power Station, also participated.
Pollution, health impacts and dislocation from their farms and homes are the primary concerns raised by the people.
During the open forum, Gil Agbayani, who worked for Team Energy for 10 years, claimed that he is “the living testament” of the ill effects of coal-fired plants.
“Diyan ko nakuha ang aking asthma. I have gone operations sa aking nostrils kasi hindi na ako makahinga at wala na, nasira na rin ang aking pang-amoy kaya ako umalis sa trabaho,” he narrated. (I acquired my asthma from my work in the company. I have undergone operations for my nostrils because I can no longer breathe and lost my sense of smell that is why I left my job.)
He underscored that there is no need for the plant and the town being the second richest town in the country.
“Ibigay ninyo na lang sa ibang lugar na mahirap para umangat din sila,” Agbayani added. (Construct it in another place that is poor so they may also progress.)
A senior citizen and resident of Baquioen, Linda Macatiag, echoed the same thought.
“Noon, wala pa naman yang [power plant] pero nabuhay naman kami na masaya at mapayapa. Hindi namin kailangan ng [power plant], kaya umuwi na kayo at dun ninyo na ipatayo sa lugar ninyo yan,” she said.(Before that power plant we were living happily and peacefully. We don’t need that, leave and construct that plant in your place.)
The residents applauded both Agbayani and Macatiag for their words.
A youth, who identified herself as Clarisse, questioned the kind of development the construction of the plant can usher to the community.
“Sabi po ninyo ang development ay para sa tao, kung naipatayo po yang planta saan po kami pupunta? Development po bang matatawag ang mapaalis ka sa tahanang iyong kinagisnan?” she asked. (You said that development is for the people but if you construct the plant where do we go? Can we call it development when you are forced out of your home?)
The young woman pointed that instead of putting up the plant, the local government should instead nurture the agriculture sector since most are dependent on their farms.
“Kapag po pinaalis ninyo kami dito na umaasa sa aming sakahan, sa palagay nyo po ba, uunlad pa kami? Hindi po ba mas higit kaming maghihirap at kayo naman po ang yayaman?” underscored Clarisse. (If you remove us from our farms, do you think we will develop? Aren’t we going to be much poorer while you enrich yourselves.)
SSM convener and spokesperson, Rossana Marie Soriano also reminded Kepco representative to include other sectors in the next consultation.
“Dapat ma-identify sinu-sino [ang] mga stakeholders, kasi napansin ko po, wala pong mga taga-simbahan. Were they informed about this? Kasi sa simbhan namin wala silang natanggap na letter,” she said.
Soriano also urged the company representative, Ron Espino, to divulge the people behind Kepco and the investor’s local partners.
Espino however declined citing confidentiality and lack of authority to speak on the matter.
The Kepco man said they will schedule another consultation on January. He promised to bring members of the Kepco management to provide adequate answers to the questions of the residents that he failed to answer.
Agbayani requested the next consultation to be held in a public and neutral venue, and not in the municipal hall so more people can attend and speak freely. The local government is supportive of the project, claiming huge revenues from the plant can further bring development to the town.
After the activity, the residents and SSM together with Makabayan-Pangasinan held a short program to share to the public the result of the consultation. They also condemned the continuing efforts of Kepco and the LGU to push the project and deceive the public of its real effects.
In April this year, officials of Labrador town unanimously adopted Resolution No. 025-2018 expressing their opposition to the construction of the P47-Billion, 1000 MW plant in Barangay Baquioen by Kepco.
Sual is the location of the country’s biggest coal-fired plant, operated by team energy, producing1,200 MW of electricity. It started providing service in 1999 and full power capacity was delivered in 2007.# nordis.net