Street protests seen vs coal plant project in Davao
DAVAO CITY—The city council voted to override Mayor Sara Duterte’s veto of an ordinance that would pave the way for the construction of a coal-fired power plant here, bringing the battle against the controversial project to the streets.
The council voted 21-2 to defeat the mayor’s veto of an ordinance reclassifying Binugao, the area where Aboitiz Power Corp. planned to build the coal plant, into a protected heavy industrial zone.
Dr. Jean Lindo, a leader of the Network Opposed to Coal (No to Coal), said opponents of the coal plant are now planning to resort to street protests to block the project following the council vote.
Lindo, however, declined to elaborate on details of the group’s next move.
Except for Councilors Leah Librado, who consistently opposed the project and voted “no,” and Paolo Duterte, brother of the mayor who abstained, practically all the councilors voted to override the mayor’s veto.
Mayor Duterte said she was upset about the override. “I feel frustrated and sad for Davao City,” she said.
The council action, she said, was what it was like to have “too much democracy.” She added that she was uncertain if measures promised by Aboitiz to reduce the ill effects of coal would be effective.
“We will only find out when we finally feel the impact of the coal-fired power plant,” said the mayor.
Groups opposed to the coal-fired plant condemned the council’s move. “The 16th city council is the ‘dark’ council, dirtying their hands with their ‘clean coal.’ History will judge them harshly,” said Chinkee Pelino, advocacy officer of the environment group Interface for Development Intervention.
“The connivance of the city council and Aboitiz is as dark as the truth about coal,” said Franchie Buhayan, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
At least 600 people, majority of them students from Assumption College of Davao, gathered outside the city council in protest, setting up a small Christmas tree decorated with what they said were symbols of the ill effects of coal—pollution, displacement of communities, lead poisoning and cases of mental retardation.
They also offered a black box to Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, father of the mayor, containing 6,000 signatures of people in Davao City, particularly in Binugao and Sirawan areas, who signed the petition against the coal-fired power project. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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