Thursday, August 26, 2010

Power plants ordered to stop coal ash emissions

Green advocates lauded Saturday a Mandaue City court directive halting
the disposal of coal ash generated by coal-fired power plants located
in Naga and Toledo Cities in Cebu.

Last August 20, Mandaue City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Presiding
Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap issued a temporary environmental protection
order (TEPO) to remedy the “indiscriminate coal ash disposal” in the
cities of Naga and Toledo.

“We commend and congratulate the Philippine Earth Justice Center
(PEJC) and other concerned groups and residents who acted as
petitioners for invoking the precautionary principle to uphold the
constitutional rights of affected communities in seeking protection
from improperly disposed coal ash, which constitutes a public health
hazard,” EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Rei Panaligan said.

Panaligan was referring to a petition filed last August 12 by the
Cebu-based PEJC before the Mandaue City RTC, citing the ill-effects of
coal ash on human health and the environment.

PEJC and other petitioners said that “even in the absence of full
scientific certainty as to how much harm coal ash affects the health
of petitioners and the ecosystem, this Court is still required under
the rules to exercise and adopt a precautionary attitude.”

It also cited the “Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental
Cases,” which said that the following factors may, among others, be
considered in applying said precautionary principle, namely: Threats
to human life or health, inequity to present or future generations, or
prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the
environmental rights of those affected.

PEJC coordinator Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, also a law professor, said that
the TEPO, a milestone in environmental defense, was made possible by
the adoption of the Supreme Court under then Chief Justice Reynato
Puno of the “Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.”

Ramos pointed out, “The remedies afforded to citizens under the Rules
are empowering and should send a strong signal to law enforcement
agencies, including local government units, to shape up and comply
with their mandates. We cannot allow polluting industries to continue
treating residents of host communities as second class citizens in
their own country and destroying our life support systems.”

For his part, Benjamin Cabrido Jr., counsel for the petitioners, said,
“This TEPO against coal-fired power plants is a moral victory for
Filipino children and future generations who will be bearing the brunt
of climate change.”


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