ENVIRONMENT groups in the country expressed their disappointment with the incoming administration of Negros Occidental governor-elect Eugenio Jose Lacson regarding its intention not to refile the ordinance declaring the province coal-free.
Climate Action for Sustainability Initiative (Kasali), in a statement, said while many industrialized and developing countries have started transitioning to renewable energy, Lacson's plan and mindset would place the province's future on dirty energy whose economic and social costs would only escalate in the future.
The group said it is ironic that the country's center for renewable energy would host a coal-fired power plant.
Kasali Executive Director Rodne Galicha, also the lead convenor of Living Laudato Si Philippines, said the incoming governor clearly does not understand that developing his province's renewable energy resources would make Negros Occidental a model for self-reliant, clean, and secured energy which could only be beneficial to its growth and development.
Galicha lamented that he (Lacson) is yet another example of short-sighted local leaders who would rather let future generations address the problems that they could otherwise have prevented.
"The incoming governor, himself a Catholic, must heed Pope Francis' message in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that: The notion of the common good also extends to future generations... We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity," he added.
Lacson, who is currently the vice governor of the province, earlier made a pronouncement that he will not re-endorse the ordinance proposed by outgoing governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.
Submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in October 2018, the proposed ordinance also declares the entire province of Negros Occidental a clean energy source and environment-friendly province.
It disallows the exploration, establishment and operation of any coal-fired power plant in the province.
In March this year, Marañon also issued an Executive Order (EO) No. 19-08 Series of 2019, an order declaring the province as a source of clean and renewable energy.
For Lacson, however, the EO issued by his predecessor does not carry much weight right now.
"My position still stands that I will not stand in the way of the decision of the city officials of San Carlos City. If they will allow it, then it shall happen," he said.
Though, Lacson will consult yet his legal adviser if there is a need to revoke the EO declaring that only clean and renewable sources of energy will be allowed in the province.
"It was just a declaration made by Marañon without an ordinance to support it. So it is not the official stand of the province," he pointed out.
It can be recalled that oppositions from various groups including the church stemmed from reports on the plan to develop a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City by SMC Global Power.
For Kasali and Living Laudato Si Philippines, there is no such thing as "clean coal."
"We support the courageous activists from various sectors in Negros Occidental in their fight to prevent the construction of the coal plant," its top official said.