Residents protest proposed coal plant in Cebu City
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Protesters trooped to the Cebu City Hall on Wednesday, April 6, to challenge a coal plant set to be built in Barangay Sawang Calero.
About 150 residents and environmental activists came out in a bid to stop the construction of the facility.
"Para namo na mga dako na okay ra kay hapit na baya mi mawala dinhi sa kalibutan, pero ang mga bata nag tubo ug nag dako pa baya sila. Concern lang mi sa epekto sa ilang health kung unsa'y mahitabo basin masakit nya sila," said Sawang Calero resident Josephine Echiverri.
(For us older ones who won't be on earth much longer, the coal plant is fine. But for our kids who are still growing, we're concerned about the effect of the coal plant on their health. They might get sick.)
"Sa bata pa ko, dugay nana naa'y planta diri sa amo ako jud mismo naka-experience ani. Kanang among nilabhan naa'y mga tapuling kanang itom," Echiverri added. "Magkasakit nya mi ug ginagmay mao makulbaan na mi."
(There was a coal plant here when I was young. I experienced living near one myself. What we'd wash would have soot. We got sick a bit from that, that's why we're a little afraid.)
"I was not informed. There was no due notice of any public hearing or any consultation," said Keeshia Salazar, 23, a former Sawang Calero barangay councilor.
She added: "If any, there were only a small number, a very minimal number who were informed of the program, and if there [were] any information, it's misinformed consent because they're misguided by the idea of a coal plant."
The coal-fired thermal power plant will be built by Ludo Power Corporation, which is seeking the approval of the Cebu City government before it can secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
City councilors Noel Wenceslao and Richard Osmeña proposed a resolution endorsing the construction of the 2x150MW coal plant in the city.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama had also expressed support for the project.
"The most important thing is we need power. Number two, is there a law prohibiting coal power?" Rama was quoted as saying in Cebu Daily News.
Coal plant proponents previously assured the public that the project would not harm residents' health.
According to a Sun.Star Cebu report, a jetty would be built to serve as conveyance for the coal, but it would be enclosed.
"This is to ensure that minimal or no dust will escape and affect the nearby community," said Jose Reynato Norente of Geosphere Technologies, a consultant of Ludo.
But Salazar is not convinced. She also claimed there haven't been enough talks between city officials, Ludo, and Sawang Calero's almost 8,000 residents.
"All residents should've had a say in the matter," Salazar said.
A public hearing on the project will be held at the Sawang Calero gym on April 17. – Kent Pepito & Geramyn Nob/Rappler.com