Philippines: Petition filed to stop 600-MW Subic coal-fired power-plant project

ENVIRONMENTAL groups on Tuesday filed a petition for injunction before the Court of Appeals in a bid to stop the 600-megawatt (MW) Subic coal-fired power-plant project. The petitioners, which include Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE, believe the Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc.s (RPEI) coal-power project was railroaded, despite stiff opposition by communities for the ecological risks it poses. They alleged President Dutertes crony oligarchs are behind the project. The RPEI is a consortium coowned by a subsidiary of Aboitiz, where Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi was a former executive. Allegedly, Manila Electric Co., another shareholder in RPEI, has also been enjoying questionable deals worth 3,551 MW of coal-power supply agreements with the Duterte regime.

Because of the Duterte regimes padrino system, Olongapos communities will be condemned to constant exposure to toxic and hazardous air pollution. RPEIs commencement of operations will surely feed into the increased electricity rates we will suffer from the coal taxes that will be passed on to us consumers, a joint statement released by the petitioners through Kaliksan-PNE said. This steady stream of new coal-power plants belies the fossil-fuel addiction of the Duterte regime, contrary to the supposed intent of its coal tax as part of the TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion] law.

While Dutertes gang of oligarchs will enjoy income-tax holidays for the first four years after it starts operating, consumers will bear the brunt of the coal-power plants environmental, health and pass-on costs, the statement read.

The petitioners argued that as early as 2012, the SBMA itself reported the RPEIs proposed 600-MW coal-fired power plant is being rejected by stakeholders in a consultation meeting held at the areas within the free port.

The Ayta, freeport workers and concerned residents expressed their opposition as the proposed power plant would contribute to pollution and acid rain once the plant is finished and up and running. The Supreme Court decision to lift the Writ of Kalikasan in 2015 emboldened the proponents to pursue the project, despite its potential adverse impact on the people and the environment, the group said.