Kiamba declares support for coal plant construction in nearby town

The declaration of support was embodied in Resolution No. 09-430 adopted unanimously by members of the Kiamba municipal council last February 24. But the  resolution, a copy of which was e-mailed to the media late Wednesday, did not cite any other reason for the declaration of support.

The resolution, certified and attested by Kiamba Vice Mayor Elmer de Peralta and municipal council secretary Miguelito Balicaco, was approved by seven out of eight members of the council.

Members of the General Santos City council are currently deliberating whether to support or reject the proposed project. 

The Maasim municipal government earlier endorsed the proposed coal plant project, which intends to start construction by October in Sitio Tampuan, Barangay Kamanga, Maasim targeted by proponent Conal Holdings Corporation.

Conal, which is currently processing its environmental compliance certificate (ECC), is 60 percent controlled by the Alcantara family’s Alsons Corporation while the rest of the shares are controlled by Electricity Generating Public Company (Egco), Thailand's biggest power producer.

The company is investing $450 million on the project, which was eyed by the government as among the power resources that will help stabilize Mindanao's power requirements before the projected power supply shortfall by 2012.

Maasim Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr. earlier said the proposed coal plant is being backed by majority of his constituents and stakeholders of the Makima area, which is being eyed to become Sarangani province’s special economic zone.

Makima stands for the neighboring coastal municipalities of Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum in Sarangani.

“Majority of the people are fully supporting the project because they realized that it is vital for our economic development. There are a few critics and we’re continually reaching out to them to make them understand that most of their concerns are unfounded,” Lopez said.

The mayor was referring to concerns on possible destructive effects to the environment and health risks to humans of the proposed project, which had been raised by environmental, civil society groups and the Catholic Church.

During the commemoration of the Earth Day on Wednesday, Marbel Diocese Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez led a protest-caravan here against the proposed coal plant and urged residents to put up a strong opposition against it.

Mary Tongo, a coordinator of Maasim’s Sta. Cruz parishioners who are opposing the project, belied the mayor’s claims that majority of Maasim residents are supporting the construction of the coal plant.

During the project’s public scoping last month, she claimed the local government hauled residents to the venue using government-owned vehicles and provided them food and snacks.

“They fetched people from the barangays, fed them and made it appear that they are already supporting the project. It was all sham from the beginning,” she said during the Wednesday rally.

Tongo added that majority of the residents are supposedly against the proposed coal plant project but were not properly consulted by the local government and the proponents. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)