Aquino’s Korea coal deal not cool in Subic, Zambales towns
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Not another coal-fired power plant.
Although President Benigno Aquino has signed an agreement with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to build a coal-fired power plant here for a Korean shipbuilder, local officials in communities around the Subic Bay Freeport said it must still be accepted by the people.
Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said the 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant project of the Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) must first be approved by affected communities.
The plant, the second coal-fired facility lined up in this freeport, will supply the power needs of the Korean-owned Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd.-Philippines, the biggest locator in this zone.
Olongapo Mayor James Gordon Jr. also said the power plant that the President wants to build for Hanjin must fulfill and satisfy the social acceptability requirements of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
“There are valid and significant concerns involving health, environmental and economic issues that need to be addressed,” he said.
Gordon said the government “must not compromise the primordial interests of the people of Olongapo and Zambales and investors who have committed their [money] in tourism-oriented businesses.”
The controversy surrounding another coal-fired power plant project pushed by a consortium of energy firms led by Aboitiz Power, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and Taiwan Cogen Corp. has drawn the ire of tourism-related businesses and surrounding communities.
In response, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority started a process of consultations to measure whether the project was acceptable.
SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said SBMA is aware that the state of the local environment “far exceeds the quality of the national average.”
Zambales Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II said local communities should not be ignored as the government pursues the project.
“I strongly believe that despite the signing of the agreement, the people of Zambales must still be consulted so we know what are the details of this project and we can closely monitor it,” he said. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon