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Residents Oppose Coal Project in Southern Philippine City

Davao City residents and environment groups are opposing the construction of a coal plant in their city. Davao is located in Mindanao, south of the Philippines. The coal plant is to be constructed by Aboitiz Power which got the approval of the city government despite local opposition.

Jean Lindo-Scandal, a medical doctor and environmentalist, enumerated some reasons why Davao green groups are against the plant:

Aboitiz Power has started the coal project even if without the carbon sink management plan.

The coal fired power plant will lock the Davaoeňos in dirty energy for more than 25 years. By then, the damage to the environment cannot be reversed.

Coal fired power plant will endanger the lives of the Philippine eagle in Toril the sea turtles. The coal is located close to the pawikan [sea turtle] sanctuary and eagle sanctuary.

If smoking by humans is forbidden in the public places of Davao, the more should the coal plant be forbidden from smoking.

Last June 29, Davao activists and residents who are opposed to the coal plant joined the ‘Global Day of Action to End the Age of Coal’ by holding a protest in the city’s freedom park.

'End Coal' rally in Davao. Image from Greenpeace

‘End Coal’ rally in Davao. Image from Greenpeace

Protesters pointed the irony of Davao implementing a strict anti-smoking ordinance yet it welcomes the entry of a coal plant in the city. Early this month, Davao was even recognized by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance as the first 100 percent smoke-free metropolitan in the Southeast Asian region:

…the city is recognized as the first metropolitan city to be smoke-free not only in the Philippines but the ASEAN region

Davao City is a city to emulate in many aspects, specially in their smoke-free efforts

Alyzza Junett M. Cabuenas wants progress for Davao but she also asserts the need for a safe and healthy environment:

I, as a legitimate citizen of Davao, am torn between economic benefit and global health, I assume that it’s better (to) live in a community simply and have a clean environment to prolong my life and enjoy it with the resources blessed upon me, than to live luxuriously but with a dangerous atmosphere. So, I wrote this article without prejudice, but I’m making my stand against the harmful coal-fired power plant.

Honestly, I wanted the city, the region, the whole Mindanao, the country; to be progressive. But I need the earth, my environment to be safe and harmless

Anna Abad interviewed some residents who will be displaced by the coal project:

Lolo [grandfather] breaks the silence and confides that one of the cemeteries in the area is gone, replaced by the construction of the coal-fired power plant, which has been cordoned off from the public.

The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness surge through me like a lightning bolt – how can this be allowed to happen?

It's depressing enough that the community currently residing there are going to be displaced, along with it, their social and economic ties to the land. But to strip them away of their culture and tradition, paying no respect to the sacredness of the burial ground is beyond belief.

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