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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WAS Antique Governor Salvacion Perez suffering from amnesia when she wrote and signed a petition letter urging President Gloria Arroyo to revoke the environmental compliance certificate issued to the coal-fired power plant proposed by Global Business Power Corp. in Iloilo City?

Defending the petition letter, Perez said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that she has been against the establishment of coal-fired power plant “a long time ago.”

“It is not correct to say that we are opposing this project only now. We have been against this for a long time now. We need to develop renewable sources of energy because no matter what we say, coal is coal,” Perez said.

Perez said they could come up with a compromise with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas not to allow the coal power plant to be established in the city but in a place far from thickly populated areas.

The lady-governor said she and the four other governors in Region 6 are concerned with the effects of the plant on their constituents who are working and studying in Iloilo City.

Perez also cautioned Treñas not to be “onion-skinned and arrogant” over the issue lest he earns the ire of the five governors.

She also denied that they are after political mileage and popularity in coming up with the anti-coal letter.

The four other governors who signed the petition letter were Felipe Nava of Guimaras, Carlito Marquez of Aklan, Victor Tanco Sr. of Capiz, Isidro Zayco of Negros Occidental.

KEPCO PROJECT

Apparently, Perez forgot that she signed a document endorsing a coal-fired power plant in her home province.

Sometime in 2003, Korean Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) proposed to build a 100-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Tibiao, Antique.

Five years ago, President Gloria Arroyo announced that Perez, in behalf of the Antique provincial government, signed a memorandum of understanding with Kepco Philippines Corp.

President Arroyo made the announcement in her speech before a meeting with rice farmers, irrigators associations, and the trade and agri-business sector in Panay April 1, 2003 at the Kalantiaw Hall of Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center in Iloilo City.

“So I am very pleased to let you know that this morning a memorandum of understanding was signed into… by and between the provincial government of Antique led by Sally Perez and Kepco Philippines, our representatives from Korea, Mr. Lee Gilbo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kepco Philippines Corporation, with the presence of Korean Ambassador Son Sang Ha, to construct and set up a 100-megawatt circulating, fluidized bed combustion power plant using the Semirara coal of Caluya in Antique.

The President’s speech can be downloaded from this link: (http://www.op.gov.ph/speeches.asp?iid=314&iyear=2003&imonth=4)

But the Kepco project did not push through as the proposed location did not pass the soil stability test even as environmentalists opposed the project.

Kepco later transferred to Ajuy then to Banate, Iloilo.

Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada told this paper that Governor Perez “even lobbied for the Iloilo provincial government to reject coal so that Kepco will be forced to invest in Antique.”

But opposition from environmentalists forced the Korean firm to move to Cebu where it finally established two 50-MW coal-fired power plants in Naga, Cebu.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Panay Sugar Planters Federation (PanayFed) exonerated Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta of Pavia, Iloilo of any obligation to the group, particularly the P1.3-million down payment for the importation of farm tractors.

But Atty. Aloysius dela Cruz, PanayFed corporate secretary, said their organization could not comment on the entries in the http://steveonthecross.blogspot.com/ weblog where the issue was first publicized.

Dela Cruz said they cannot dignify the exposé in the blog “because we don’t know if who’s the author (of the blog).”

“The issue of the P1.3-million came out in a blog. On the part of PanayFed, we cannot in any away react to what was stated in the blog because we don’t know who came out with the blog. It would be unfair for the federation to be asked to comment on a sensitive issue when we don’t even know who posted this and we could not confirm in any way his sources in so far as the allegations are concerned. We will not dignify the blog because the author does not come forward and let the federation answer his queries,” dela Cruz said.

The PanayFed officials added “it would be unfair to all the parties involved if the federation, which is not the main protagonist in the issue, to give comments against anybody involved in the story.”

Dela Cruz said Gorriceta does not owe money to PanayFed “therefore we have no cause to issue a statement in so far as Mayor Gorriceta is concerned because the good mayor he has been a part officer of the corporation.”

“If the issue would involve the name of the corporation, we would not easily reveal sensitive information without going through the process. If Mayor Gorriceta has obligations with us, the first thing the federation will do is to go after him in any legal means. But as of now, we have no legal actions against him and he has no obligation to us,” he said.

Dela Cruz said PanayFed is not bothered by the P1.3-million issue because they are no focusing their efforts on the problems of the sugar industry.

“We are more concerned with the implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement which might remove tariffs on imported sugar, thus affecting the local sugar industry. The issue does not bother the federation,” he said.

He also challenged the blog author to come out and lay down his documents.

“In that way, we can deal with this issue in the proper forum, not in the blog or in the media,” dela Cruz said.

Gorriceta had denied the allegations in the blog although he referred this paper to PanayFed to explain the matter.

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