Duterte says City Council has final say on coal plant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 December) —Mayor Sara Duterte is standing pat on her earlier stand against the coal-fired power plant in the city but it would be the city council, not the city chief executive, who will have the final say on the project, she said.

The City Council is chaired by the vice mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor’s father who served as city mayor for 19 years, from 1988 to 1998 and 2001 to 2010.

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had earlier expressed his support to the project to address the impending power shortage that businessmen claim will happen in Mindanao in 2014.

The proponents of the coal-fired plant “will have to seek the endorsement of the city council before they can put up such a project,” Mayor Duterte said, referring to the plan of the Aboitiz
Power Corporation (APC) to put up a coal-fired plant in the city to address the projected power shortfall in Mindanao in 2014.

“I don’t think they still have to go to the local executive for a permit because that is already being taken care of in the national level,” she said.

Duterte said her position against coal-fired plant in the city hasn’t changed at all but she is leaving it to the city council to decide what is good for the people.

“Most likely, it (the coal-fired plant project) will start within my  term,” said Duterte.  ”But it will be the city council, not the city executive, that will give their endorsement to the project,” she said.

“I haven’t changed my stand against the project, but I will leave it out to the City Council to decide.”

In a briefing before the Davao Tourism Association and the ICT industry early this month, Manuel Orig, consultant of the Aboitiz Power Corporation, said the power company is eyeing Bunawan or Binugao as the plant site.

The mayor said no official communication has been sent to the city government as yet.

Councilor Leah Librado,  chair of the city council committee on women and children, warned against allowing the coal-fired plant in the city, saying the noticeable rise of temperature and the heavy flooding experienced in the city are already signs of climate change.

“We are now at the mercy of our increasingly warm earth,” Librado said in a statement over the weekend. “We feel this through the occurrences of long dry spells and the heavy flooding every time it rains. The El Nino and La Nina phenomenon are severely affecting our farmers and our fisherfolk. We also feel the unbearable heat and the heightened the incidence of allergies, colds, flu, and other diseases, including the dengue outbreak recently experienced in the city.”

She said women and children are the most vulnerable to these diseases.

“I share the belief that all of these are caused by global warming,” said Librado, who supported the mayor’s stand against the coal-fired plant.

“Our abusive and exploitative practices are now coming back at us. These are the consequences of  abuse and large-scale exploitation of our natural resources.”

She said the people of Davao should be informed about the real power situation in the city, instead of being subjected to the “hype” by power companies. “Davaoenos should be informed,” she said. She also said the claim by business and power companies that Mindanao is facing a power crisis should also be “scrutinized.”

She challenged business claims on the impending power supply shortfall in Mindanao by 2014. “Prove that there is, indeed, an inadequacy of power supply,” she said, “and for what purpose?”

Librado said the Mindanao Business Council earlier said the need for power in Mindanao in the coming years will be fueled by increased activities in the mining sector. “If the energy we’re going to generate from coal and hydropower will primarily be used for foreign investors rather than the general public, then why should we put at stake our own environment survival?” she asked.  (Germelina A. Lacorte/MindaNews)