We join all of Palawan’s affected communities and civil society in denouncing the action of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to approve the establishment of the DMCI coal fired power plant, during its meeting on 28 May 2015.
The manner by which the PCSD issued a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance to the thermal plant project demonstrated this body’s brazen disregard of its core mandate to protect Palawan’s environment. The PCSD as a permanent regulatory agency surrendered itself to machinations of local politics, kowtowing to the provincial governor’s personal dictates.
We denounce the fact that there was no deliberation or debate at all within the Council as Governor Jose Alvarez held sway all other local officials including the mayors of Puerto Princesa City and the municipality of Narra who meekly kept their mouths shut when the resolution was made.As representatives of communities opposing the coal project, we were denied our basic clamor to be fairly represented in the decision making process.
We denounce the fact that even in the communities where the coal plant is planned to be constructed, there was no informed participation in the environmental impact assessment process. This denied community residents unbiased access to information on the coal power plant project.
We denounce the railroading of the entire local permitting process from the barangay level to the municipal level and from the provincial legislature to the PCSD Council. All of these processes were a mockery of the consultative and participatory processes required under existing laws, and in direct disregard of PCSD's own procedures. To date, DMCI has not submitted an Environmental Impact Statement on its project to the ECAN Board. There was no endorsement from the ECAN Board necessary to facilitate its endorsement to the PCSD. And finally, the coal option was evaluated but rejected as too costly under the newly approved Palawan Island Energy Development Masterplan.
Shocking and disturbing is the governor’s response that the project no longer needs the endorsement of the ECAN Board and the approval of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),and that he can unilaterally change the energy masterplan. It is alarming that the highest-ranking public official in the province of Palawan contravenes the basic tenets of transparency, participation and accountability that our laws stand for. The Aquino Administration promotes good governance in its fight against corruption.
We thus call on every Palaweno to send letter-petitions protesting this mockery of our laws and processes to key national officials, the provincial governor, to all the government officials who sit in the PCSD, to the barangay officials of San Isidro, Narra and the municipal officials of Narra.