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JUSTICE AND PEACE AND INTEGRITY OF CREATION

NEWS RELEASE

27 August 2015

Biodiversity, Innovation, Trade & Society (BITS)
Policy Center
St. Paul of the Cross Pastoral Center
Novitiate Compound, National Highway
General Santos City

Contact person : Ms. Cecil Diono, cellphone : 0918-2301283

SUPREME COURT ASKED TO STOP CONSTRUCTION OF SARANGANI COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT OVER MISSING REPORT SIGNIFICANTLY INDICATING DAMAGE TO NEARBY MARINE ECOSYSTEM AND THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

Sr. Susan O. Bolanio, OND and Fr. Rey Ondap, CP, Executive Director of the Passionist Center – Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Inc. (PC-JPIC) filed 2 days ago, through registered mail and online, a petition to the Supreme Court, asking the highest court of the land to intervene in a case that the two initiated over a year ago, but encountered difficulties in the Justice on Wheels of Sarangani, to stop the construction of the 200 MW coal-fired power plant in Kamanga, Sarangani of the Alcantara-owned Sarangani Energy Corporation, among such difficulties is that Judge presiding over the case, Hon. Oscar P. Noel, Jr., inhibited himself from further handling the case.

The petition to the Supreme Court alleged that the Justice on Wheels of Sarangani dragged consideration of the case for over a year, having filed it last 29 May 2014 where they asked for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) to stop the construction of the 200 MW coal-fired power plant owned by Sarangani Energy Corporation in Kamanga, Sarangani, as the construction of the jetty had caused damage to the adjacent underwater marine ecosystem.

Since that time, the Justice on Wheels of Sarangani did not immediately rule either granting or denying the request, for, instead of relying on the affidavit of long-time marine enthusiast John Heitz, who first brought out the issue before the local media, the Court wanted to educate itself and time was spent on who will do the study to validate the allegations of damage to the underwater marine ecosystem where the jetty was being constructed.

A study was finally done last 13 March 2015 by a court-organized diving team, but apparently the validation report of the team originally submitted to the Court was retrieved by DENR CENRO Wahid Amelia and was substituted with another which, if examined closely, has a significant missing part that is supposed to deal with the damage caused to the marine ecosystem caused by the construction of the jetty.

Petitioners asked the Justice on Wheels for a copy of the original report that was retrieved, but it was ignored, indicating that such report is already missing, as no copy of it was left behind in the files of the Court, based on inquiries with the Court staff.

In a strange twist to the case, the presiding Judge of the Justice on Wheels of Sarangani, Hon. Oscar P. Noel, Jr. inhibited himself in an order dated 26 June 2015 from further handling the case, thus putting the resolution of the issues raised by the case in doubt.

Sr. Bolanio and Fr. Ondap also asked the Supreme Court to apply the precautionary principle, considering the lack of full scientific certainty in the irreparable harm caused to the marine ecosystem, caused by the construction of the coal-fired power plant, which is also in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure on Environmental Cases, or the Writ of Kalikasan rules.

To press home the point that the implementation of the precautionary principle is of transcendental importance for the protection of the environment, the Supreme Court petition also cited the recent encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si, which principle, the Pope argues, is an important tool towards lessening the further degradation of the environment.

AUGUST 25 2015. An estimated crowd of two thousand concerned citizens and parishioners under the leadership of our Passionist priests at the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish in General Santos City expressed their strong opposition towards the proposed E-games permit or franchising that is currently being deliberated at the City Council.

The words written in the big tarpaulin expressed very well what they wanted to say: “Trabaho, dili sugal ang solusyon sa kalisod” (the remedy to poverty is job, not gambling). It is their fervent hope and demand that the City government would listen to the people. Otherwise, gambling would only exacerbate the already alarming incidents of drug addiction, unsolved killings and labor problems in the city and the surrounding municipalities.


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