Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greenpeace ship to dock in GenSan vs coal plant

The famous Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace International will give its all out support to the fight of fishing communities in Maasim, Sarangani against plans to build a coal-fired power plant in the town.

Rainbow Warrior will dock at the General Santos City Makar Wharf on Friday, which will also mark its final sail for the Southeast Asia Turn the Tide Tour.
The boat’s stop in the Philippines, its fourth trip to the country but first to Mindanao, will also be its last trip before it retires—21 years after it sailed around the world.

It will leave Mindanao on Nov. 22.

Coal’s dirt

Lea Guerrero, regional communication manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the Rainbow Warrior’s mission in Mindanao is to give its support to the fight of communities and various groups against the establishment of a coal plant in Maasim.

“We are in solidarity with the fishing communities of Maasim and other groups who are strongly opposing the coal plant,” said Guerrero.

“Coal plant is not the answer to the crisis of power being faced by Mindanao today. It will never be an answer to the crisis but it will even worsen the problem,” Guerrero said.

The Rainbow Warior has toured the world campaigning against whaling, war, coal plants, climate change and other forms of environmentally-destructive development.

Southeast Asia mission

The Turn the Tide tour marks the 10 years of Greenpeace International’s work in Southeast Asia.

“The Rainbow Warrior is on a mission in Southeast Asia to demonstrate and promote right solutions and expose and confront wrong practices in global efforts to tackle climate change,” a paper of Greenpeace said.

Guerrero said that for the Maasim campaign, Greenpeace is working closely with other groups, including the Catholic Church in Sarangani and South Cotabato, and their allied groups, who are protesting the 200-megawatt coal plant set to be put up in Sitio Tampuan, Barangay Kamanga in Maasim.

Groups opposing the proposed coal plant is led by the Maasim Peoples Coalition on Climate Change, including the Archdiocese of Koronadal and the environmental group Legal Rights and Natural Resources (LRC), a Philippine member of the international federation Friends of the Earth (FoE).

‘Act of the demon’

Earlier, Pastor Roel Ubatay, a minister of a small B’laan community, said the “construction of the coal-fired power plant is an act of the demon and never will it follow the will of God to make the people live in the fullness of His creation.”

Mariano Panugas, a fisherman, also said he was worried that the project will destroy the fishermen’s source of livelihood.

“It can never be true that we will enjoy the same resources from the seas after the construction of the coal fired power plant. Fish will die or will go farther where our small boats can’t go,” he said.

Guerrero said the waters of Sarangani and their natural resources will be destroyed by the coal-fired plant once it is built and starts to operate.

Mercury laden

“There is no such thing as a green coal. While nitrous oxide can be eliminated, the mercury in the coal can never be eliminated as there is no technology yet designed for that. Ultimately, the coal plant will only cause the death of the earth,” she said.

What is being advocated by Greenpeace International is the use of renewable energy which can be tapped from the development of wind and solar farms—sources of energies that can be brought to communities without bringing destruction to the environment and harm to the health of the people.

She, too, countered the claim that coal is the most viable and cheapest source of energy.

“That is not true. It is cheap because it gets subsidy from the government. But we know for a fact that the equation doesn’t include the destruction it causes to the environment and the health of the people,” she said.


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