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Priest-head of coalition calls for nullification of public scoping for LNG project Philippines’ province

Fr. Warren Puno joined the appeal for the nullification of public scoping for the Mauban town, Quezon Province, LNG project on Thursday, February 29, 2024. (Photo: Human Rights Online Philippines)

A priest who is the head of a coalition joined the call for nullification of public scoping for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mauban town, Quezon province, on Thursday, February 29, saying they were not invited as legitimate stakeholders.

“We received no formal invitation, even when we are legitimate stakeholders, as prescribed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). There is abundant evidence in the Philippines and across the world of the negative impacts of fossil fuels, including LNG, on the health of people and ecological systems,” said Fr. Warren Puno, lead convenor of Quezon for Environment  (QUEEN), in a statement.

QUEEN is a coalition of environmental advocates, communities, and church groups in Quezon that says that the “1,200 MW LNG combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) being proposed by Quezon Power Philippines Ltd. Co. (QPPL) poses many threats to host communities and the environment. “

QUEEN and its allies cited findings from a recent report from the think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) that “selected areas in Quezon and the Philippines where existing or proposed fossil fuel plants are located already exceed national and international standards for what is considered to be healthy ambient air quality.”

It gave a sample of Atimonan town in Quezon, which has gone beyond standards even as the gas power plant proposed in it still has to begin operation.  Two towns away is Mauban (town), which is bound to be in a worse situation because it already hosts two existing coal-fired power plants, said Queen.

Gerry Arances, executive director of CEED, said: “The people of Quezon have a right to clean air, a clean environment, and clean energy—all of which LNG is not capable of providing. QPPL and DENR-EMB threaten local stakeholders by failing to inform them of the risks they face. What else can this be but insult added to injury?”

The coalition said the proponents and the DENR (Environmental Management Bureau) were “amiss in sufficiently informing and engaging stakeholders on the impacts and details of the fossil fuel project.”

It was said that they should have exhausted all efforts to ensure the meaningful participation of stakeholders.

“If the proponents and DENR fail in their responsibility of ensuring that all stakeholders are well-informed and involved in compliance processes, how can we be assured that we will not end up suffering worse once the project comes to life,” said Fr. Warren Puno, who is also the Director of the Ministry on Ecology of the Diocese of Lucena.

QUEEN said the public scoping “should be declared null and void.”

“Excluding us from this public scoping is an insensitive move. We and many others have diligently fought for years to protect the cultural, historical, and environmental integrity of our town - all of which a project of this scale will undoubtedly impact. Any compliance process that ignores legitimate stakeholders like us is invalid and cannot be trusted,” said Atty. Bella Putong, a member of the Mauban Heritage Association.

Fr. Puno also questioned the proponent’s decision to name the power plant after San Francisco, the Catholic patron saint of the environment.  "The proposed San Francisco LNG plant will harm our environment, our ailing climate, and vulnerable people. It goes against everything St. Francis stood for. We will not let such an offense come to life,” he said.  (MTV)


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