Court blocks Palawan DMCI coal plant

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – A Regional Trial Court has blocked the construction of the controversial DMCI coal-fired power plant in Palawan after receiving a complaint filed by locals.

Judge Ambrosio de Luna, the environmental court judge of Palawan, issued an order on December 12 to extend a 72-hour temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) against the proposed coal plant.

The order prevents the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) from granting a special permit to the project that will allow the Consunji-led DMCI Power Corp to start the construction of the facility.

Residents of Aborlan town, the proposed location of the coal plant, questioned the legality of an endorsement given by their local officials for the facility. The endorsement of the local government unit is a requirement for the construction of power plants in Palawan. The residents complained DMCI Power Corp and the local officials did not hold proper public consultation. 

"They didn't even submit a proposal to us. They didn't even give us the exact location of the power plant. How can we evaluate you when you are not giving us papers?" asked Lita Sopsop, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the Western Philippines University, a school in Aborlan.

Aborlan locals and environmentalists said the coal-fired plant will only damage surrounding ecosystems and pose health risks to nearby communities.

They fear that waste from the coal plant, such as bottom and fly ash produced from the combustion of coal, could endanger declared fish sanctuaries in the area.