Malolos bishop, priests protest steel plant
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Citing Pope Francis’ call for environmental protection, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros and 73 priests in Bulacan province are leading the opposition to a steel rolling mill plant being built in Plaridel town and the operation of a container yard there.
On March 19, 2013, during his inauguration, Francis said: “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”
Oliveros wrote on Nov. 11 last year a letter supporting a clamor from Plaridel residents, who claimed that the steel plant would pollute the town and deplete its water supply.
Lisa Sakdalan, a resident and official of Kalikasang Dalisay para sa Mamamayan ng Plaridel Movement, said the project violated land use laws because the area is supposedly for residential and agricultural use only.
The priests also supported the residents’ protest against a container yard operated by Interpacific Highway Transport Corp., said Fr. Leopoldo Evangelista III, director of the environmental program of the Diocese of Malolos.
“Operators of the yard have seven container vans piled up so high that these structures now tower over a school and a church,” Evangelista said.
Both projects are in Barangay (village) Parulan in Plaridel.
Due to the holiday break, the Inquirer was unable to contact Mayor Aimee Jocell Vistan-Casaje for information about the steel plant project.
But in November last year, Casaje said the container yard had not been issued a permit to operate. She said the yard was taking in containers dislocated from the Manila port.
Casaje said she wanted to impose regulations, among them a rule limiting the pile of containers to only four.
According to a study commissioned by the diocese, the steel plant operation would have adverse effects on Barangays Banga I and II, Bintog and Bulihan in Plaridel and Santo Cristo in Pulilan town.
The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had issued the Del Pilar steel plant an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
But Evangelista said the ECC should not prevail over a provision banning heavy industries near residential and agricultural areas, which was in the ECC for Asian Land. Asian Land is an industrial estate in the area where the new steel plant is rising.
Contractors building the steel plant had fenced off portions of the 16-hectare lot that was bought from former Plaridel Mayor Amado Buhain, Evangelista said.
He said Oliveros had written President Aquino about the two companies’ “failure to confirm to regularity conditions and legal requirements provided by law.”
The bishop asked Mr. Aquino to intervene for the relocation of these projects “to other industrial estates that legally and environmentally accommodate heavy industries.” Reports from Tonette Orejas and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon
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