Protest Rally Against Coal-Fired Power Plant in Subic
OLONGAPO CITY – Residents of this city are poised to hold a huge rally today, August 29, to oppose the construction of a coal plant at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), formerly the biggest US Naval Base in Asia and the Pacific.
Multi-sector groups led by Sigaw ng Lumalabang Olongapeno (SIGLO) and Save Subic Bay, an environmental organization created to protect Olongapo and Subic Bay, other non-government organizations (NGOs), city government employees, students, barangay officials and residents, local businessmen, workers, church, and transport groups are appealing to President Benigno Aquino III to stop the negotiated deal between the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the consortiums of the Aboitiz group, Meralco, and a Taiwanese firm to build a 600 MW coal-fired power plant in the Redondo Peninsula, Sitio Naglatore, Barangay Cawag, Municipality of Subic, Zambales. The area is nestled along the world renowned Subic Bay and part of SBFZ.
Local environmentalists and health experts have warned of the hazards that a coal-fired power plants cause on humans and the environment.
Dr. Arturo Mendoza, head of the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital and member of the Olongapo Medical Society, said the project’s proponents have failed to assure the public on the safety of the coal-fired power plant. He explained that even in the United States, existing coal-fired power plants are being phased out because of concrete proofs about their ill-effects on human body and the environment.
Councilor Eduardo Piano, chairman of the committee on environmental protection of the Sanggunian Panglunsod ng Olongapo and one of the organizers of the planned protest rally who formally requested for the use of Rizal Triangle as venue of protest rally said that the plant will endanger the lives of thousands of Olongapo and Zambales residents.
“The plant’s operation will cause pollution and damage the ecosystem including the marine life of Subic Bay,” Piano expressed.
“There are good and bad investments. Yes, we need investors in Subic and Olongapo but not this kind. Our government should be investing in its people to make them productive and not to put their lives at risk,” Piano added.
SIGLO Chairman, Mike Pusing, explained that Olongapo and Subic do not stand to benefit at all with the electric power to be generated from the plant.
“The power distribution lines will merely pass through Subic and serve the Luzon grid. In short, Olongapo residents and SBFZ locators would still have to pay for expensive electricity while the rest of Luzon will enjoy cheap power rates, sleep safe and sound while we are wide awake in fear of the danger that stare us in the face,” Pusing said.
Pusing added that the project will turn Olongapo and Subic residents into a “sacrificial lambs in the altar of vested interest of the rich and powerful electric power distributors.”
City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. gave a permit to the rally organizers saying Olongapo residents are free to express their sentiments over issues that concern their welfare.
The participants of the rally are set to assemble and hold a program at the Rizal Triangle Park and covered court and then will march to SBMA gate. Expected to attend the rally are AKBAYAN party-list representative Walden Bello, Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel, and artist-environmentalist Noel Cabangon.