LUCENA CITY — Leaders of pro-environment groups on Monday held a protest rally condemning the recent approval of the Quezon Provincial Legislative Board of various proposed projects of the San Miguel Corporation in Sariaya and Pagbilao, Quezon.
The protest was held during the regular session of the Provincial Board.
The rallyists, led by Rev. Fr. Warren Puno, Ministry of Ecology director of the Diocese of Lucena, expressed their strong opposition to the multi-million peso worth of proposed projects that include another coal-fired power plant.
Based on the resolution authored by Board member Ferdinand Talabong, which was allegedly hastily approved by the Board, the proposed projects to be built in Sariaya include feedmill and cement-grinding plant, port facilities and a tank farm.
Among the planned projects in Pagbilao are a 1,200 megawatt coal-fired power plant, two-million tons per year cement plant, sea port, dressing plant, slaughter house, ready-to-eat plant, logistics center and a quarry site.
Puno, who was allowed by Board presiding officer Vice Gov. Samuel Nantes to speak on behalf of the oppositors, said they are not against progress and development as long as the environment and the people will not be adversely affected.
“Una, kami po ay hindi tumututol sa mga proyektong pangkaunlaran maliban kung ito ay magdudulot ng masamang epekto sa kalikasan at sa mamamayan,” said the prelate.
“We just want to clarify some important points. Firstly, have you made a study on the proposed project? If so, have you shared this to the concerned residents? Have you initiated consultations to them? And lastly, how true is the information that each Board member was given ‘grease money’ of P1 million to P2 million by the San Miguel Corporation,” the priest added.
Majority floor leader Sonny Ubana, who spoke on behalf of the Board, quickly defended the Chamber and answered the questions raised.
Ubana disclosed that they attended a technical presentation of the projects on invitation of SMC in Makati City on December 14, three days before they finally passed a resolution and approving it on December 17.
Ubana said it was the regulatory bodies, responsibility to conduct a study and public consultations, referring to the local government units and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which issue business permits and Environmental Compliance Certificate, respectively.
He said the Board’s approval of the resolution was done above board and in the right process.
Ubana vehemently denied the allegations that each of them had received P1 million to P2 million from the project proponent.
It was learned that the Board had received a letter on November 23, 2018 from Quezon Gov. David Suarez asking for the passage of a resolution approving the proposed projects of SMC.
The Board approved the resolution on December 17.