DENR asked: Probe “leak”
Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento, Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - October 11, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Climate and environment groups yesterday staged a rally at the Department of Energy-7 and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 to protest the recent coal fired power plant leaks in Barangay Bato, Toledo City.

In a statement, the group said that the coal fired power plant, owned by the Aboitiz’s Therma Visayas, is a 340 MW coal plant which was commissioned for operation last November 2018 but alleged problems with the construction has kept the coal plant from being fully utilized.

Teody Navea, the convenor of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)-Cebu Chapter, said during the rally that while repairs were being done, the structural problem is still there and this is the reason the dangerous coal leaks happened last September 24.

Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) Vice President Ronaldo Ramos, when sought for comment, said that TVI is committed in ensuring the welfare of their host community and value all of their stakeholders’ feedback.

“An open dialogue process has been already in place on the ground and we believe that all issues and complaints are best resolved there. We will definitely look into this complaint and communicate our findings and the steps we will take to address the complaints of our neighbors, partners, and stakeholders,” Ramos added.

In a dialogue with residents last September 30, the TVI has explained the series of activities that the company will undertake in the plant repairs and coal deliveries.

They had also conducted dialogues last June 18 and August 8 with the residents.

The TVI has also assured the residents that all their concerns will be properly addressed and that the welfare of the residents is also among their priorities.

Navea has asked the DENR why it did not quickly investigate the reported poisoning among residents last September 30.

“Due to what happened, PMCJ-Cebu demands that DENR should investigate this pollution caused by Aboitiz and have this plant temporarily closed while the investigation is ongoing,” Navea said.

Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice in the Philippines, said that the country’s environment laws are “kid gloves” to coal plants in the Philippines.

“We have very low standards in terms of air and water pollutants which allow these hazardous substances of coal plants escape classification,” Rivera said.

“We reiterate the call of the people in Toledo City and PMCJ Cebu Chapter to immediately investigate this Aboitiz coal plant violation and have it shutdown. The coal plant should not be allowed to operate,” Rivera added.

Arrested

Meanwhile, an anti-mining activist was arrested by the police in Barangay East Poblacion, Naga City, Cebu yesterday morning by virtue of a warrant of arrest Regional Trial Court Cebu City Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. had issued.

Adrian Cabag, 34, is facing a complaint for cyber libel filed by suspended Mayor Valdemar Chiong over a Facebook post using the account name Niarda Gabac.

The post last April 27 allegedly contained libelous, threatening and vexing statements against Chiong’s family, particularly his daughter and acting Mayor Kristine Chiong, who was the incumbent mayor when the landslide hit their area.

Cabag’s counsel, lawyer Vincent Isles, said they are willing to answer the allegations in court should the prosecution deny their motion for reconsideration to the earlier resolution finding probable cause against his client.

“Cabag only stood up for what he thinks is right - that the mountains of the City of Naga should be spared from further destruction. Yet people close to the Chiongs had sown intrigues against him, and even provided to the Honorable Mayor an edited screenshot of what was purported to be a Facebook status of Mr. Cabag, when in truth and in fact, Mr. Cabag did not post the said status,” Isles said.

Cabag was also released on the same day after posting bail. The arraignment and pre-trial is set on November 25.  GAN (FREEMAN)

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