A priest in the Diocese of Lucena warned against what he described as the “railroading” of the implementation of new coal projects by the government and big corporations in the diocese.
Father Warren Puno claimed that proponents of the projects “failed to follow the correct procedure in getting the public’s opinion” about the proposed coal-fired power plants in the province of Quezon.
The priest, who heads the ecology ministry of the diocese, said public education campaigns and consultations “were done without the representation of all required stakeholders.”
“Many of the stakeholders, including affected communities, church institutions, and pro-environment groups were not invited,” said the priest.
Father Puno said that despite the “irregularities,” the proponents of the project conducted a public meeting on January 13 supposedly to give stakeholders the chance to comment on the proposal.
“How can we give our comments if we did not receive the [information] materials,” said the priest, adding that the Environment department also failed to notify the public of the meeting.
The government approved last year the expansion of two coal-fired power plants in the northern Philippine province of Quezon.
It gave the green light to San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corporation and Central Luzon Premiere Power Corporation to start procedures for building of a 2,130-megawatt and a 2,195-megawatt coal-fired power plants.
Under Philippine laws, coal project proponents are required to conduct information and education campaigns to allow stakeholders to examine the proposed projects and its impacts.
Lawyer Avril De Torres of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, said the information campaign conducted by the project proponents last week was “irregular and defective.”
The Diocese of Lucena and the center have issued appeals for the Environment department to postpone the meetings “but they kept on ignoring our pleas.”
In a joint statement issued on January 13, five pro-environment groups expressed their opposition to the new coal plants that will be built in the town of Pagbilao in Quezon province.
The groups cited “increasing scientific evidence” that coal-fired energy is one of the main culprits in “worsening the climate crisis.”
Last year, the Department of Energy issued a moratorium on all future coal-fired projects, citing the immense greenhouse gas emissions of coal projects.
However, coal projects that are already in the pipeline, including the two proposed coal plants in Quezon province, are not included in the moratorium.