Palawan town council nixes DMCI-proposed coal plant near cockatoo sanctuary
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 12:49
City Parrots in Cacatua haematuropygia - Philippine Cockatoo, Conflict, Conservation, Habitat distruction

No to Coal. Photo by Elmer BadillaPALAWAN – The province’s municipal council of Narra has opposed the construction of a 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Barangay Panacan by DMCI Power Corporation, a subsidiary of the Consunji-led DMCI Holdings Inc.

In a three-page resolution, Narra’s Sangguniang Bayan says the council is against the project because it could threaten the environment, harm the already critically endangered Philippine cockatoo, pose health hazard to residents and cause them anxiety.

“(U)pon proper consultation, review and research,  the Sangguniang Bayan believes that the environmental threat, possible harmful health effects, anxiety of our constituents and direct and indirect impact on the survival of the Philippine Cockatoo, which the government already invested to much, far outweighed the economic benefits and opportunities that go with the establishment of a coal-fired power plant,” states the June 11 resolution.

May kuryente nga tayo, mamamatay naman sa usok ‘yong mga kabataan natin. Apektado pa ang kalikasan na pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan ng mga taga Narra. Eh ano ba ang mas mahalaga, buhay o kuryente?” council member Joel Bito-onon, author of the resolution, told media on Tuesday.

[We will have electricity but that also means our youth will die due to the smoke from the plant. It will also affect the sources of livelihood of Narra residents. What’s more important, life or electricity?]

The council said that during a series of public consultations, DMCI failed to provide “concrete mitigating measures” that “should have appeased the anxiety of the constituents” as well as “clarify the issues and concerns” raised by environmental groups, particularly, the Katala Foundation.

Red-vented cockatoo 'capital of the world' 

The foundation spearheads the conservation of the red-vented cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) nesting on Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Barangay Panacan.

Twenty-five percent of the population of the critically endangered species can be found in Narra, making the town the red-vented cockatoo “capital of the world,” according to the council.

The plant, to be constructed 700 meters off of the sanctuary, will block the cockatoo’s flight path to its foraging area in the mainland and the plant’s feeder lines ma not only cause collisions among the birds, but also electrocute them, according to the government’s Protected Area Management Board.

The board said the planned construction of the plant is a violation of Republic Act 9547 or the Wildlife Act and in “gross contradiction” to the National Integrated Protected Area System or Republic Act 7566.

Meanwhile, the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE), an alliance of anti-coal advocates, said the decision of the counci  was an “initial victory” in the group’s fight to stop DMCI’s construction of the plant.

Masaya kami na may mga local governments pa rin sa Palawan na handang manindigan para sa general welfare ng taumbayan [We are happy that we have local governments in Palawan ready to stand up for the general welfare of the people]” said Elizabeth Maclang, advocacy officer of the Palawan NGO Network and one of the conveners of PACE.

Earlier this year, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, chaired by outgoing governor Abraham Kahlil Mitra, issued a conditional approval for the proposed project despite the opposition of PCSD’s own technical staff and the absence of endorsements from the Narra local government.

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