Groups hit midnight clearance issued by Cerilles to dirty plant

Press release - February 2, 2001
The international environmental group Greenpeace today joined local groups in Negros Occidental province in denouncing the "midnight environmental clearance" granted by former Environment Secretary Antonio Cerilles to the controversial 50 MW coal-fired power plant project in Pulupandan, appealing at the same time to the new administration of President Macapagal Arroyo to immediately revoke the underhanded decision

The international environmental group Greenpeace today joined local groups in Negros Occidental province in denouncing the "midnight environmental clearance" granted by former Environment Secretary Antonio Cerilles to the controversial 50 MW coal-fired power plant project in Pulupandan, appealing at the same time to the new administration of President Macapagal Arroyo to immediately revoke the underhanded decision-

"We are not giving up. We will continue to fight. We will not allow this coal-fired power plant to be put up in Pulupandan-," stressed Ella Jacildo coordinator of the People of Pulupandan against the proposed Coal-Fired Power Plant (PPAC)- She added that the swift and shady issuance of the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) by Cerilles this January despite the project's obvious lack of social acceptability betrays a culture of arrogance and deceit in the DENR where projects rejected by the people are railroaded just the same behind closed doors- We hope the new President will correct this injustice- "

Greenpeace stressed that the issuance of the ECC to the project does not augur well for the development of clean and renewable energy alternatives in the country- "Not only does this send a negative signal against clean energy development, this also has the real effect of condemning Pulupandan to be the toxic sacrifice zone of Negros," said Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Pulupandanons have been suffering now for over 20 years from the pollution of an existing distillery plant fueled by a diesel and coal fed power plant. Pulupandan waters already have elevated concentrations of lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium exceeding current Philippine standards. The proposed coal plant is expected to aggravate the toxic contamination problems of the municipality.

The DENR itself has issued a certification that the proposed project site is itself an environmentally critical area. Being flood prone with unstable soil condition subject to liquefaction, establishing the coal storage area and coal ash pond in this area will endanger the already limited water supply of the surrounding communities. The project's discharges to the sea could result in the destruction of Pulupandan's most productive alamang-fishing area and in the process dislocate almost 1000 fishing households in the area's fishing zone.

For her part, Romana de los Reyes, convenor of the Negrosanons against the Coal-Fired Power Plant added that "the issuance of an ECC for this coal plant will be a "pyrrhic victory" for Congressman Cojuangco, the project's leading pusher. The people of the Fourth District of Negros Occidental will remember this, especially during the coming elections- We will not only stop this filthy energy project from happening, we will also ask our fellow Negrosanons to reject Mr. Cojuanco and his ilk in May. We will make sure this becomes an election issue."

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