NGOs opposed to coal plant kept out of Palawan body

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PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Nongovernment organizations (NGOs) opposing the proposed creation of a coal-fired power plant in Palawan have been locked out in the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), which will decide whether to allow or reject the project next week.

The PCSD has been revamped and the NGOs expressed fears that its new composition, now mostly local political leaders, would lead to the approval of the coal plant project.

In a meeting on Friday, the body elected Gov. Jose Alvarez as its new chair, replacing former Gov. Abraham Mitra, and approved several projects awaiting clearance for the issuance of a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) permit.

The SEP permit is a requirement unique to Palawan projects imposed by a special law passed by Congress for the province in the early 1990s.

“Judging from the statement made by Gov. [Jose] Alvarez that he needs any form of power supply for Palawan, we’re apprehensive that the council might approve the coal plant anytime now,” said lawyer Gidor Manero of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center.

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