Bataan guv approves dismantling BTPP scrap-A A +A
Thursday, October 3, 2013
BALANGA CITY -- Governor Abet Garcia approved the dismantling of the toxic-laden government-owned Bataan Thermal Power Plant (BTPP), provided the hauler can ensure the safety of the public from hazardous effects and toxic wastes.
In an interview, Garcia gave this assurance after the tension brought about by the dismantling issue dragging on for years the BTPP’s decommissioning.
As a result, the monetary benefits of the former BTPP’s 6,000 workers have also been delayed because of legal impediment and environmental issues that Garcia said were “beyond his control."
Last August 30, the National Labor Relations Commission through Executive Labor Arbiter Mariano Bactin ruled that "in the absence of any Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Writ of Preliminary Injunction and other relief... the Sheriff and other personnel assigned are hereby ordered to effect the payment of the judgment awards to the judgment awardees (workers)."
Bactin said the Uni-wide Scrap Traders Corp (USTC) owned by businessman Rafaelito Lo Jr. was adjudged as the logical and legitimate buyer/purchaser of the rights and properties of the workers after other buyers failed to submit documents for their bid before NLRC.
The Labor Arbiter ordered USTC to release immediately the P73.4 million it deposited "in trust" intended to pay the former BTPP workers the soonest possible time.
For his part, lawyer Joey Angeles, provincial legal officer, filed anew before the Regional Trial Court Branch 4 a motion for the reinstatement of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (Tepo), earning the ire of the workers as they see this will again block the payments due them.
Angeles, however, said this (Tepo) could not prevent them from receiving their payment and that they can anytime get their money as ordered by the NLRC.
Miriam de Guzman, spokesperson of the BTPP workers, told Governor Garcia that the group has been waiting for more than 30 years to claim their benefits. Some of them have died, have been sickly and have become old, and yet they have not been awarded the benefits due them, said de Guzman.
They are appealing to the young governor to help them secure their money by not opposing the dismantling of the scrap.
But the governor clarified that he and his father, former governor and now congressman Tet Garcia, had nothing to do with the delay of their benefits “since the ownership issue was marred by court litigation and labor issues,” adding that he has no question whoever owns and buys the scrap.
“Tell your companions that I have nothing against, and am not blocking, your compensation; but what I am after is that I just want to ensure that during the dismantling there will be no environmental problems and the buyer of the scrap will not escape and pay you,” Garcia told the leaders of the workers.
On Monday, more than 400 workers of BTPP held a protest rally in front of the Provincial Capitol compound and sought a dialog with the governor himself. (Ric Sapnu)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 04, 2013.