The DENR, Capitol and City Hall black magic

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Sunday, December 8, 2013


GIUNSA man kini pag hocus-pocus nga ang environmental compliance certificate (ECC) nga gi-issue sa DENR gikan sa opisina ni Secretary Paje para sa hugaw nga mga coal plants sa Misamis Oriental kaniadto pa sa Agosto, 2013 unya ang consultation sa Capitolyo gihimo ayha pa sa Mayo?

Ngano nag-una man ang ECC kay sa pangunsulta ni vice governor Pelaez ug DENR Secretary Paje? Unsa man ang gibasihan sa mao nga ECC nga wala pa may assessment o pangunsulta nga nahitabo sa Agosto?

Unsang klase sa pangunsulta kini nga "personal opinion" man ang gipangayo sa Capitolyo instead of an interactive discussion? Unsaon man kini pagka "Hapsay" nga ang atong syudad nga anuoson na man unya hinuon ang atong hangin ug kadagatan? Duna bay ECC sa usa ka multibillion nga proyekto nga puede lang i-processo sulod sa 4 ka bulan? Unsa diay inyong proyekto, barbecue?

Ralph Abragan, chairperson of Save CDO Movement, wrote: "One of the requisites of an ECC before issuance is a public consultation that is part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA). This is the same pattern to the ECC's issued by DENR-EMB used for illegal mining in upland Iponan and on Sea Oil in Molugan gi tagaan ug ECC nga walay public consultation."

These are some of the facts pointed out by Nixon Baban, chairperson sa Bangon Kagay-an, Inc. Please find the letter of vice governor Pelaez to "50 people representing various groups," aside from we do not know when this was dispatch, no deadline for the reply was set by the vice governor? Only 4 letters out of 50 were sent to CDO groups, XU Pres. Robert Yap, Lourdes College Sis Nora Joson, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Balay Mindanao.

Take note, this is not a public consultation but a simple letter asking for their personal positions about the coal issue which is absurd (read content of letter below). The consultation should have been more extensive since Cagayanons are stakeholders, at least similar letters have been sent to the City Mayor, City Council and various Civic and Civil Society groups? An ECC for the FDC was granted May 27, 2013, three months before the vice governor’s letter.

“No group has responded” according to the vice governor, but Bangon Kagay-an sees it as a weak alibi to justify his sudden turn around from a previous strong opposition (as you claim) against the FDC coal plant to approve it instead."

Bangon Kagay-an further pointed out "how fast it is to secure an ECC for a multibillion coal powered plant sans extensive consultation of other stakeholders. New Project Proposal received by EMB- DENR Jan. 31, 2013, ECC released May 27, 2013." That's in only about four months and it looks like the ECCs are issued like a runaway train losing its breaks or probably manned by a driver under the influence of drugs.

The letter from the Vice Governor did not include environmental groups such as Sulog, Save CDO and Bangon Kagay-an. "With no response, the provincial board subsequently voted for the operations of the coal-fired plant projects.

Pelaez said he informed the local Roman Catholic archdiocese, town mayors, academics and other stakeholders about the plans of Filinvest Development Corp. Misamis Power Corp. and the Mindanao Energy System (Minergy) to construct coal-fired power plants in Villanueva and Balingasag towns, respectively.

Vice governor Pelaez’s earlier sponsored a resolution to implement a moratorium on the expansion and construction of more coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental pending an environmental and health impact assessment “that is open, transparent and participated by the people of Misamis Oriental” addressed to the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission but the Provincial Board mysteriously turned around weeks later, as it approved a resolution expressing support of the coal-fired power plant projects.

Moreno’s sarcasm

City Mayor Oscar Moreno tried to deodorize the planned operations of the coal plants with a shocking sarcasm that "the smoke coming out from the kitchen of city information officer, Maricel Casiño is far greater than the pollution caused by coal plants."

He might have meant it a joke, but that is far from his cry of "No More Sendong!" at the Cathedral during his kick off campaign in the 2013 elections. This city and country, which have been regularly hit and devastated by typhoons and floods, should better take climate change problems seriously and responsibly. He should better be reminded that his campaign, involved such an 8-point program which includes among others, the environment, health and tourism development for the city which will be adversely and terribly affected by these destructive, toxic and massively pollutant coal plants.

It may be interesting to note that in Vancouver, Canada which is a part of the province of British Columbia, Vancouver Metro News reported that Mayor Gregor Robertson Thursday, December 5, 2013 expressed concern about the possible spill of oil from tankers passing by the province from Alberta to nearby Burnaby which is just some 10 kilometers away from the city due to such threats of environmental disaster which can affect the tourism, business and image of the City as one of the top most livable in the world and well being of its residents.

He proposed that Vancouver should now be represented as an intervener during the National Energy Board hearings concerning proposed expansion of the pipelines infrastructure and subsequent increase in tanker traffic. ??

What is done by the Cagayan de Oro mayor is not simply careless, conceited and dictatorial management in assuming that his personal opinion will be sufficient to endorse such pollutant and destructive coal plants without public consultation by an appropriate Environment or Energy Committee for the environmental and health Impacts of those operations in Misamis Oriental into our city and people.

As a matter of fact, the City Council committee on energy chairman, councilor Bong Lao expressed his opposition to the same plant and has in fact joined the green groups, Archdiocesan church representatives and concerned citizens in a protest rally held at the DENR premises. While the Vancouver mayor wants his city to given proper representation on safeguards and safety nets, our very own city mayor relies on his own idea of how to deal with the issue. This unilateral action by the city mayor creates an unnecessary climate of mistrust on the matter of pursuing our interests even as this writer quoted Green Peace that China is investing on obsolete coal plants to power their mining businesses.

Copies of letters furnished by Bangon kagay-an chairperson, Nixon Baban showed that what the Capitol Sanggunian asked from the leaders of these institutions were their personal opinion on the coal plants.

Meanwhile, Sulog, Bangon Kagay-an, Save CDO, have come up with a draft position paper in cooperation with such other institutions like the Archdiocese of Cagayan de oro and other Churches on the question of this black coal magic and railroaded runaway train disaster industries in the making by these public officials. It’s not too late. It’s never too late to work for the environment. Bangon Kagay-an and some citizens of this city like Ralph Abragan, Tito Mora, Ben Contreras, Edwin Dael and others, filed the cases for the issuance of the Writs of Kalikasan, Continuing Mandamus and Environmental Protection Order before the Court of Appeals.

So far, the former 2 were granted and the other pending. We have reached this far to stop logging and mining. We can move forward to stop destructive coal plants too.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 08, 2013.

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