Davao City mayor ‘frustrated, sad’ councilors overruled her on coal plant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 December) — Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expressed disappointment over the decision of the city council to override her veto of an ordinance reclassifying a parcel of land in Barangay Binugao, Toril District from protected medium industrial zone to protected heavy industrial zone, to allow Aboitiz Power Corp. to construct a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.

AFTERMATH. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expresses her frustration during a press conference Tuesday, December 13, 2011, over the decision of the City Council to overturn her veto of a land reclassification ordinance. The decision of the City Council opens the way for the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Toril, Davao City. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More“I am frustrated, I’m sad…They should have heeded the veto because it is a powerful message that the city mayor is against their measure,” Duterte-Carpio told reporters on Tuesday.

On Monday, 21 of the 22 councilors present voted yes to override the veto. The council has 26 members but the others were absent.

Only Councilor Paolo Duterte, an ex-officio member being the chair of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), abstained from the voting.

Upon issuing her veto order, the mayor said that she also told the councilors to review all materials related to the coal technology.

“But apparently, on the day itself that I issued the veto, the same day also that the reports came out that they will override the veto. Let history judge them na lang,” she added.

Duterte-Carpio said she believes that the council hastily decided to override the veto order, saying “they did not take time to study it again.”

The mayor’s stand against the Aboitiz project runs counter to that of her father, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Last week, the elder Duterte told reporters that the veto had not killed the project yet, adding the mayor will be left with no choice but to implement the project [if the council overturned her veto].

He had always been consistent in pushing for the implementation of the project.

“I have visited the coal-fired plant in Villanueva (Misamis Oriental), but I still have to see someone who died of cancer,” he stressed.

In her veto message, the mayor said: “As a mayor of our city, I should be at the forefront of effecting the observance of the right of our people to health and balanced ecology, and the correlative duty of the people, which I suppose rests largely upon the government, to refrain from impairing the environment.”

On November, 23 members of the City Council voted in favor of the ordinance reclassifying the 26-hectare of land in Barangay Binugao in Toril District.

The decision came after the body passed a resolution endorsing the proposed coal-fired power plant in the middle of this year.

While Duterte-Carpio acknowledged that the councilors were just exercising their right in a democracy, she said she will consult with the city’s legal counsel to explore other options to block the project.

The mayor added she issued the veto to allow the councilors to carefully review everything regarding the coal-fired power plant.

The outcome of the session on Monday drew flak from groups opposed to the project.

Some 200 protesters had already gathered in front of the City Council building while the session was going on. They called the 21 councilors “mga traidor sa katawhan” (traitors of the people).

In her previous media interviews, Duterte-Carpio has been urging “to explore other alternative sources of energy instead of coal.”

Opposition groups echoed the mayor’s suggestion. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)