Religious leaders seek court order to stop coal-fired plant
GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Militant religious leaders here recently led the filing of a petition at the Sarangani Regional Trial Court for the issuance of an environment protection order against the builders of a coal-fired power plant near Sarangani Bay.
Sarangani Bay is a protected marine sanctuary and the power plant’s construction was damaging its ecosystem, they said.
Fr. Rey Ondap, executive director of Passionist Center for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, and Sr. Susan Bolanio of Oblates of Notre Dame expressed optimism that the court would listen to their appeal.
“This is a battle between crass materialism [and] environmental protection. Lust for profit versus our resolve to protect ecology from further degradation,”q Ondap said
Ondap and Bolanio’s group said the construction of the 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Kamanga in Maasim, Sarangani province, was damaging to the ecosystem of the protected Sarangani Bay.
The coal plant, owned by the Alcantaras’ Sarangani Energy Corp. (SEC), was scheduled to go on commercial stream in the last quarter of 2015.
In filing the petition, the opponents of the power plant quoted an affidavit issued by John Heitz, a diving enthusiast and a former US Peace Corps volunteer.
In his affidavit, Heitz said corals were being damaged as SEC constructed a barge-landing facility that would help run the coal-fired plant.
“I could not say the exact extent of the damage. But it is continuing each passing day. I’m just hoping that the appropriate punishment would be imposed against those responsible,” Heitz told the Inquirer in an earlier interview.
Heitz said even the artificial corals that he and his diving buddy, Chris Dearne, had deployed in Sarangani Bay had been damaged by SEC’s construction activities.
In their petition, Ondap and Bolanio’s group asked the court to save the remaining corals and protect the marine ecosystem in the area by halting SEC’s construction activities.
They also asked the court to direct concerned agencies to conduct a comprehensive survey to determine the extent of the damage the construction activities had wrought.
Joel Aton, SEC project assurance manager, said the firm expected damage to the ecosystem of the bay during the construction.
He said this was the reason the company had included the rehabilitation of damaged marine structures in its environment impact statement.
“SEC will replace or rehabilitate the disturbed marine resources,” Aton said in a text message to the Inquirer. Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao
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