BACOLOD Bishop Patricio Buzon said Thursday, August 11, 2022, that they are supporting the call by various environmentalist groups led by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza against the construction of a 300-megawatt (MW) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Combined Cycle Power Plant in the northern Negros Occidental city.

“We support him (and) it is our persistent stand that all fossil-derived energy is harmful,” Buzon said.

He said that they have been consistent in the call to look for an alternative source of energy.

Alminaza earlier urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental to revoke the Resolution of Non-Objection (Rono) it issued for the project.

He explained that based on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the project is “still under preparation” by the proponent, and that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 22-018 states that local government units cannot issue a letter of no objection without an EIA, therefore deeming the non-objection invalid.

To thresh out the issue, the Negros Occidental Provincial Legal Office has already sought the opinion of the DILG.

Provincial Legal officer Alberto Nellas Jr. told SunStar Bacolod that the memorandum circular was issued in February 2022 while the application for Rono for the project was done a year ahead.

“We want the DILG to clarify whether it (the memorandum) has retroactive application since the rule was cascaded after the application for Rono,” he said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government and Panggas, a group of student environmentalists, and the Bacolod diocese signed a memorandum of partnership for a collaboration in environmental initiatives at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol Building Thursday.

Under the partnership, the diocese will designate a point-person for the environmental programs, provide technical assistance on the project, research and community development implementation and assist the Provincial Environmental Management Office in institutionalizing the program.

The diocese will likewise spearhead the carrying out of information, education and communication initiatives to heighten the awareness of local communities and provide up to date reports that are useful.

For its part, the provincial government is tasked to review proposals related to the joint environmental programs and will facilitate linkages with other local and international partners, among others.