Aquino reminded of poll promises on environmentBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mr. President, what happened to your campaign pledge to wean the country away from dirty fuel and lead it to clean energy use?
In an open letter, some Church, civil and environmental leaders held President Benigno Aquino to account for his pledge made during the May 2010 election campaign to phase out coal-fired power plants and “shift towards clean, green technologies and energy sources” for the country’s power needs.
“When you assumed the presidency, many of us were encouraged by your promise to fully implement the Renewable Energy Act. Indeed, we were hopeful your leadership would usher in a real transformation towards a clean, energy future,” they said.
Early in Mr. Aquino’s term, the Department of Energy (DOE) launched the National Renewable Energy Plan, purportedly the country’s roadmap to mainstream renewable energy (RE), they recalled.
But after two years, Energy Secretary Jose Almendras had approved 11 coal projects around the country with a combined output of 4,385 megawatts, far exceeding the aggregate number of coal projects approved under previous administrations, they said.
“Three years into your presidency, however, the commitments you made on the renewable energy front have barely seen the light of day. Instead of realizing a surge of investments in clean, renewable energy as envisioned in the law, we have seen a resurgence of dirty, coal power plant proposals,” they said.
They said that, in effect, the DOE “stranded” the full implementation of the renewable energy law, delaying approval of the feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates for renewable energy.
FIT rates are meant to assure renewable energy developers of future cash flow from electricity end-users paying fixed amounts to cover the production of energy from renewable sources.
Untapped energy resource
“As a consequence, the Philippines’ vast RE potential of about 261,000 megawatts remains untapped, with investors opting to move to other markets in the region, having been locked out by coal projects in the pipeline,” they said.
The open letter was signed by Msgr. Antonio Dumaual of the Nuclear Free Bataan Movement, Fr. Lito Mabiliran of the Archdiocesan Ecological Concerns Office in Batangas, Lipa City Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, Dr. Jean Lindo of No to Coal Davao, Mary Ann Fuentes of Interface Development Interventions and Ted Aldwin Ong of the Freedom from Debt Coalition in Iloilo.
The other signatories were Melvin Purzuelo, Green Forum Western Visayas; Aurora Alerta-Lim, Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy; Rodolfo P. Dewara, UP-All; Stan Salcedo, Task Force Macajalar, Misamis Oriental; Junjun Mojica, Green Alert Negros; Alex Hermoso, Zambales-Olongapo Civil Society Network; Gregorio Magdaraog, Subic No to Coal Coalition; Norma Amata, People Power Volunteers for Reform Zambales; Barangay Chair Josephine Pareja of Talisayan, Zamboanga, and Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
They said the legacy of good government Mr. Aquino wished to leave behind was “being tainted by the enduring pollution associated with your administration’s obvious bias for coal power.”