MALITA, Davao del Sur, Nov. 19, 2012—Residents of a local community here called on local government officials to protect their welfare against threats of development aggression pushed by a giant conglomerate.
SMC Global Power Corporation plans to build a 600MW coal-fired power plant in Culaman, Malita, Davao del Sur allegedly for the benefit of the local community, while Legenda Mines plans to do a mining exploration, and eventually operations on the place.
Local folks oppose the move asserting the coal plant and large-scale mining would only “bring more harm than good to the people and environment of Malita.”
In a petition letter signed by Malita Tagakaulo Mission (MATAMIS) of the Diocese of Digos, it declared “that coal energy and large scale mining threaten our hopes for a sustainable future for our children.”
“It is unacceptable that we be made to suffer the harmful effects of a coal-fired power plant in our municipality with the knowledge that environmentally friendly solutions in the form of clean renewable energy are widely available and readily deployable,” part of the petition read.
To cool down its boilers, a 600MW coal plant would need 30,000 drums of fresh water per day or 10,950,000 drums per year.
Drawing such large amount of water everyday would deplete the freshwater supply of the Malita river and compete with the community’s water consumption, the group said.
It also added that the waste water used from cooling the boilers and dumped into the sea would cause irreparable damage to the coastal and marine life along Davao gulf.
Green coal or clean coal technology presented by SMC is highly deceptive, the group furthered, as coal produces large quantities of cancer causing agents and emits heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium that can cause severe or permanent damages to body’s vital organs.
The communities also asserted, the primary goal of the SMC proposed power plant is not to provide energy to Malita but to other entities that are in need of huge power supply like mining companies.
Mining operations on ancestral lands
Legenda Mines, Inc., a sister company of Global Power Corporation is set to conduct mining explorations covering eight barangays in Malita that are home to Tagakaulo people.
The petitioners said large scale mining will displace the Tagakaulo communities of Malita, destroy their way of life, and bring irreversible damage to the environment.
They called on the government to do its duty to protect the rights of the local communities to live in a “balanced and healthful ecology” in their ancestral lands, ensuring their economic, social and cultural well being.
“It is unacceptable that the Tagakaulo are deceived into giving up the rights to their lands by the very same government agencies mandated to protect them all in the name of development,” the group said.
Some members of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and LGU officials have acted as go-betweens to get the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) from the communities.
The group deplored the “anomalous” manner the FPIC was obtained in one barangay, saying it “may be indicative of the probable irregularity with which government agencies had conducted consultations in all the barangays targeted by the project proponent.”
It said the local government must prioritize and support green and pro-people investments, instead of pursuing investments that have the potential to harm society, peace and order, and the environment.
“We demand that the provincial government of Davao del Sur and the municipal government of Malita take immediate action to truly protect the well-being of our communities by immediately cancelling the coal-fired power plant and mining projects of SMC Global Power Corporation and Legenda Mines,” the group declared. (CBCPNews)