P25-B coal plant in limbo

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014


THE ongoing construction of Therma South Incorporated's (TSI) P25-billion 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Binugao-Toril, Davao City and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur is stuck in limbo.

Forty-nine of TSI’s 61 foreign workers arrested on July 24 were subjected to deportation proceedings after having been found out that some don't have working permits.

Bureau of Immigration (BI)-Davao alien control officer Eddie Delima said that the 49 are all Chinese nationals.

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“Gi-release na namo tong 12 ka foreigners kay naay lain sa ila nga naka present ug working visa nga na-issue gikan sa Manila. Ang lain pud nga nadakpan kay gi-release kay wala man na-establish nga didto sila nagtrabaho, (We released the 12 foreigners as some of them presented working visas that were issued in Manila. Some of the arrested foreigners were also released after it was not established that they were work there),” Delima said.

It was earlier reported that 61 arrested foreigners were composed of 56 Chinese, two Brits, one American, one Thai, and one Australian. BI-Davao launched the operation by virtue of a mission order issued by BI commissioner Sigfried Mison.

When asked if there are legal implications on the part of TSI, Delima said the power company did not commit any violation as they merely accepted the foreign workers due to the endorsement of the contractor. If there would be cases that will be filed, it should be against the contractor.

But he clarified that the immigration office is not the proper agency that should pursue the charges against the contractor, saying, “We are more concerned with the individuals who have violated immigration laws and not those who employ them.”

The 49 Chinese nationals are currently detained at the BI-Davao detention facility while the summary deportation proceeding is still pending.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz Power Corp. first vice president for Mindanao Affairs Manuel M. Orig, who guested in Wednesday's edition of Club 888 at Marco Polo Hotel Davao, said most of the 49 employees of their contractors work in critical and highly-skilled positions.

"These are jobs that cannot be hired from local sources. They are very critical for the construction of the plant and these skills cannot be hired locally," Orig said.

Orig said they hope that those who were summoned will be back as soon as possible, otherwise, construction of the power plant will be derailed.

He, however, said they are still confident that they will achieve commissioning of their units and have the plant ready for commercial operations by the first half of 2015.

"The employees and personnel are from our contractors and not ours. The issue has to be answered by our contractors. We cannot speak for them because we have no control over their people," Orig added.

He pointed out that it was part of the contract and a requirement for the contractors that all their workers who will be assigned to the plant should meet all the Philippine laws and regulations pertaining to foreign workers working in the Philippines.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 31, 2014.

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