Statement against the upcoming operation of DMCI Power Corporation’s 15 MW Coal-fired Power Plant

For over a decade, local communities, civic movements, and national supporters have vehemently rejected the proposition to build a coal-fired power plant in what is known as the Philippines’ “last frontier” of natural and cultural treasures – Palawan. 

We thus condemn the blatant disrespect of DMCI Power Corporation to the people’s wishes to keep coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, off Palawan’s coasts. Today, DMCI is seeking to initiate the operation of its 15 MW Coal-fired Power Plant in Brgy. Bato-Bato, Narra within June 2023. 

The effects of dirty, deadly, and costly effects of coal are no secret to Filipinos, given the well-documented experiences of coal-impacted communities across the Philippines. While DMCI Power claims that its project will bring benefits to Narra, they are eclipsed by the damage that transporting, storing, and burning coal are bound to inflict onto peoples of Palawan. Coal is known to bring lung, heart, skin, and other diseases to exposed communities. It is bound to result in water, land, and air pollution that will severely degrade Palawan’s thriving biodiversity and, consequently, all livelihoods dependent on the health of the environment.

Moreover, the operations of the coal-fired power plant will lead to increased maritime traffic along Palawan’s coastal waters due to the need for ships delivering materials and supplies. This increases the risks of hazardous situations like the oil spill that happened off the coast of Oriental Mindoro – a disaster that reportedly reached even the waters of Palawan. Coastal communities in impacted areas now suffer disrupted livelihoods, are exposed to health risks, and face bleak futures. This can very well be Palawan’s fate, between its ocean resources facing threats of pollution, its forests felled, its mountains torn open by mining, and its air polluted by coal ash. 

The addition of a coal plant in Palawan and anywhere in the world also goes against the climate imperative of phasing out coal, to avert even more catastrophic climate impacts than those that Palawan is already all too-familiar with. Last December 2021, Typhoon Odette ripped through the Philippines, killing thousands and causing billions in property and agricultural damage. Palawan was not spared, Odette having ravaged its forests and coral reefs. Much of the marine life impacted by Odette has yet to recover as of April 2023. 

Furthermore, it makes no sense for any company to fire up or any local government to support a new coal-fired power plant even with a moratorium on new coal from the Department of Energy – a moratorium which, in the first place, was put in place to assist in improving the security and stability of the country’s power systems. Should DMCI insist in operating its power plant with imported coal, it would be exposing consumers – be it local consumers or those in the nationally grid paying off-grid subsidies – to extremely volatile and increasingly costly electricity and placing them at the mercy of the global market. Should it source its coal from its equally destructive and opposed coal mine in Semirara, it will be using fuel which is considered to be more toxic than imported supply, thus exposing communities to even more potent pollution and placing DMCI itself at risk from legal liabilities due to failure to comply to its environmental certification commitments.

As early as 2013, the people of Palawan, national supporters, and even local leaders have been exploring pathways to a 100% renewable energy future for the province. The advent of renewable energy developments that bring its competitiveness to sky highs today indicate that a transition is more possible today than ever before. In different parts of the country today, various renewable energy plants are charging rates as low as 2.99-4 Php/kWh, a third of the generation rate of some coal power plants today. Palawan’s energy needs are much better served by turning towards renewable energy sources, and will spare communities from toxic emissions and other detrimental impacts. Through a hastened energy transition, Palawan is more than capable of proving that development powered by renewables, not fossil fuels, is possible.

We thus join local communities and organizations in solidarity against the destructive threat of coal, and demand that the local governments of Narra and Palawan revoke their endorsement of DMCI Power’s coal-fired power plant. The priority of the province’s government leaders must be to enable a renewable energy transition, including securing more investments for renewables, and promoting people-centered energy.

There is no place for coal in Palawan. Save Palawan from coal, and make way for 100% renewable energy!

– Power for People Coalition –

Caritas Philippines

Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED)

Freedom from Debt Coalition

Greenpeace Philippines

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)