Conservation body urges Palawan to keep coal out
by FFE PH News staff
Palawan is considered the country’s last ecological frontier because of its exceptional levels of biodiversity and biological productivity. However, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines said that this ecological treasure is under threat of a proposed coal-fired power plant in Aborlan.
To save Palawan from expensive and damaging fossil fuel plants, WWF-PH launched ‘Seize Your Power.’ Aside from rejecting the proposed power plant, the campaign aims to get support towards making Palawan a national standard for energy development and clean and affordable renewable sources. It calls on financial institutions, private investors and the government to invest in clean energy in the region.
WWF-PH vice chair and chief executive officer Lory Tan said ‘Palawan can become an example for the rest of the country by veering from outdated, business-as-usual thinking and embracing future practices, particularly the use of locally abundant renewable energy resources.’
Students protest against coal-fired power plant in Palawan. Photo source: WWF-PH
The campaign launch was attended by more than 500 representatives from the Puerto Princesa city and towns around Aborlan and Narra.
Provincial economic affairs adviser Caesar Ventura said that to cope up with developments, Palawan needs power. But the region is ‘just waiting for renewable energy investors to approach so we can finally fund local projects.’
Renewable energy projects have been lined up in the province since 2010. But they have yet to secure contracts with the local electric cooperative, rendering them unable to generate power for Palawan.
Executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center Gerthie Mayo-Anda remarked that renewable energy would be cheaper than energy from the coal plant. She lamented ‘Why should Palaweños buy expensive, dirty energy when cheaper and cleaner alternatives are already available? The extra expense will not just be incurred by Palaweños but by the rest of the country.’
Environmentalists in Palawan have rejected the plans to build the coal plant in Aborlan, which was initially proposed in Narra and scrapped following protests by residents. The original plan in Narra would have directly affected the Philippine cockatoo nesting grounds in Rasa Wildlife Sanctuary.
Katala Foundation’s Indira Lacerna-Widmann said ‘This would have had grave impact on the Katala’s breeding population, putting years of conservation work to protect this iconic species in peril.’
Palawan, also recently named by the tourism industry as one of the best islands in the world, is home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites – the Tubbataha Reefs and the Puerto Princesa Underground River.