Aboitiz coal-fired power plant gets Davao council’s nod

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 June) – The Davao City Council has endorsed the request of Aboitiz Power Corp. to put up the 300-megawatt Therma South Energy coal-fired power plant in Barangay Binugao in Toril District, infuriating oppositors who walked out of the session.

Citing the reported power crisis in Mindanao, alleged reliability and affordability of coal-fired power plants and attracting more investors to the city, among others, as basis for approval, the city council during its regular session today (Tuesday) approved the recommendation of the three Sangguniang Panlungsod committees (energy, transportation and communication; environment; and trade, commerce and industry) assigned to look into the matter.

“It’s like implementing a no-smoking rule 100 meters away. But what about 150 meters away? If we don’t allow the construction of the plant (in the city), it will be constructed in another area which is barely one kilometer from our jurisdiction,” said Councilor Joanne Bonguyan (1st Dist.). “We will still be affected. If it’s built within our area, then we will be able to apply mitigating measures and we can hold them accountable if they don’t follow measures,” she added.

“The needs and demands of progress and development are fast out-phasing the available supply of energy. That is so because Davao City is growing … and the rest of Mindanao is not too far behind,” said Councilor Melchor Quitain in his speech.

The same tunes were sung by a number of councilors as they gave their reasons why they approved of the said power plant.

Only Councilor Leah Librado (1st Dist.) voted no to the coal-fired plant.

She said that in studies in the United States, the health of women and children in coal mining communities are compromised as traces of mercury were found to be present in the breast milk. In China, the women “were found to have developed gene mutation for lung cancer.”

Bur Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who supports the plant, said, “Let us be practical.”

Calling oppositors as “dreamers,” he urged them to produce somebody who can produce energy at the scale that the city needed. “Wala eh, (Unfortunately, there’s no one)” Duterte pointed out.

The voting disappointed the oppositors. A number of No To Coal members walked out during the casting of votes as a sign of protest.

“It’s really a mourning day for Davao City,” said concerned citizen Norma Javellana.

She pointed out that the city council members are banking so much on the multi-partite monitoring team to ensure a clean operation of the plant, noting that the existing monitoring teams in banana plantations are not doing their jobs well.

Javellana pointed out the oppositors’ strong arguments and expressed surprise at the council’s hasty decision.

“What will they do with the carbon monoxide and mercury that can never be strained by technology? They will put these in their wallets, too?” she opined. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan / MindaNews)