THE Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Mandaue City has issued a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (Tepo) against six government offices and three power firms to stop them from moving coal ash to another location.

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The order stemmed from the case filed by three groups of environmentalists against SPC Power Corp., SPC-Kepco Power Corp. and Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) and/or Global Power Corp. and Toledo Power Corp.

The Cebu Provincial Government, Cebu Provincial Board, City of Naga, Toledo City, Department of Energy and Department of Environment and Natural Resources were included because of their regulatory powers over power plants.

The Tepo was served to all the respondents by court sheriff Julbert Opada yesterday.

At SPC-Kepco, the media was not allowed to enter the premises. Only the sheriff was allowed entry.

The copy of the Tepo, which was served to SPC Power Corp., was received by security officer Edgardo Hinogin.

The charges were filed by the Philippine Earth Justice, represented by lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos; Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, represented by Estrella Catarata; and the Fisherfolks Development Center, represented by Vince Cinches.

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Cinches said the issuance of the Tepo is a partial victory in their fight against

coal-fired power plants.

He said the issuance of the Tepo will restrain the respondents from disposing of coal ash.

RTC 28 Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap has set the hearing of the case on Aug. 27 to determine whether a permanent environmental protection order will be issued or not.

Cinches said the Tepo issued by RTC 28 was the first in the Visayas but the second one in the country.

“It will set the record straight. It will be a precedent and a reminder to those who operate and are planning to operate coal-fired power plants that the law must be followed to protect the health of the people,” Cinches said.

In issuing the Tepo, the court noted the nature of the petition is a citizens’ suit and the issuance of the order was pursuant to Section 5, Rule 2 of the Rules of

Procedure for Environmental Cases which took effect on April 29, 2010.

In the same petition, the petitioners alleged the respondents have violated their right to health and their right to a balanced and healthful ecology as provided in Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution.

City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong welcomed the issuance of the Tepo because this will compel SPC and Kepco to be careful in disposing of their coal ash.

“I believe that coal ash will not affect public health if this will be taken care of properly. It’s the responsibility of the coal-fired power plant owners to dispose of their coal ash properly,” Chiong said. (EOB)