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Groups to renew protest vs. Iloilo coal-fired power project

First Posted 12:41:00 03/04/2008

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines - Environmental and religious groups will hold a rally on Tuesday to protest anew the proposed construction of a coal-fired power plant in this city.

Organizers of the protest said the rally would commemorate the fourth anniversary of the rejection of a proposed coal plant project in Banate town in Iloilo. The project was shelved because of widespread protests from the community and environmental groups.

Protesters from various organizations, parishes and schools will assemble at the Sta. Teresita and St. Clement's churches at 1:30 p.m. before marching to the grounds of the Iloilo provincial capitol where a prayer rally and program will be held.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the prayer rally would also re-affirm the stand of Western Visayas bishops, rejecting the establishment of coal plants anywhere in the region because of its health and environmental threats.

The Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC)-Panay Power Corp. (PPC) and its technical partner, Taiwan-based Formosa Heavy Industries Corp. (FHIC), have been planning to set up a 164-megawatt coal plant in barangay Ingore in La Paz district here.

City officials and at least 10 business organizations, representing 350 companies, supported the project.

The officials of Ingore and neighboring barangays (villages) in La Paz including Ticud, Hinactacan, Banuyao, Lopez Jaena Sur, Gustilo and Bitoon also supported the project.

The task force formed by Mayor Jerry Treñas to study the project also endorsed the proposed coal power plant.

Supporters of the coal plant said the project would ensure a stable power supply and bring in more investors to Panay Island and, in turn, create jobs for Ilonggos.

But environmental groups, scientists and physicians have warned of health and environmental risks because of emission of toxic substances despite the use of the most advanced technology to filter these substances.

In a press conference on Monday, a Taiwan-based scientist and environmentalist disputed claims of proponents that coal plants like those in Taiwan were found to be environmentally safe and were accepted by communities where the plants have been located.

Dr. Chia-Yang Tsai, chief of the Chang Hua Environmental Protection Union, said the Formosa Plastic Co. and coal plant in Mailiao in Taiwan were among the top emitters of carbon dioxide worldwide.

Citing data from the Taiwan National Health Bureau, Chai-Yang, an associate professor at the Tung Hai University who holds a doctorate in environmental science, said the lung cancer cases in areas near the 12 coal plants in Taiwan increased in the past 10 years. /Inquirer

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