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ILED president Rex Drilon

ILED president Rex Drilon

Biz group slam guvs’ anti-coal letter

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN umbrella group of business organizations here slammed the five Western Visayas governors who called for the revocation of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the proposed coal-fired power plant of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Ilonggo business executive Rex Drilon, Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILEDF) president, said the actions of the five governors led by Salvacion Perez of Antique are “deplorable” and the “work of an evil hand.”

ILEDF is an umbrella organization of 14 major business and professional associations tasked with promoting business, investments and tourism in the city and province of Iloilo.

The Iloilo City mayor, Iloilo provincial governor and provincial DTI director are ex-officio members of the ILEDF board of directors. The group represents more than 350 small, medium and large businesses employing thousands in Iloilo.

The proposed coal power plant is a joint project of GBPC with the Formosa Group of Taiwan and will cost P18 billion, the biggest investment ever in Iloilo City and Panay Island.

“The actions of the Western Visayas governors, save for Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas who did not sign the petition, are mysterious, defy logic, border on interference on the affairs of other independent local government units and are anti-business and anti-investment. It is as if an evil hand is at work,” Drilon said.

Drilon, chief operating officer of Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership, expressed disbelief at Gov. Perez’s position “particularly because five years ago, she signed a memorandum of understanding with KEPCO, a Korean power company, to set up a 100-MW coal plant in Antique.”

“And today, Antique has a 15-MW coal power plant, which uses an older technology, operating in her province. If a coal plant was good enough for Gov. Perez in Antique why is she now objecting to a coal plant in Iloilo City?” Drilon said.

The ILEDF president also debunked the claims of the five governors that GBPC’s coal-fired power plant will pose danger to their constituents staying in Iloilo City

“That is hilarious and shallow. All the concerned parties went through a long, rigorous process to assure that the coal plant will be ideally situated and pose minimal adverse impact on residents and the environment. We went through another protracted process to secure the ECC. The benefits to our communities are undeniable and unquestionable,” he said.

Revoking the ECC issued to the project proponent will result in investor flight, straining Iloilo City’s economic development, Drilon added.

“With the ECC approval, contractual and supply commitments had been finalized by the investors. If the ECC is cancelled as proposed by Gov. Perez, the investors will be left holding the proverbial bag – this is no way to promote investments in our country and will only confirm the perception that, indeed, in this country, we change the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” Drilon added.

Drilon said the 164-MW coal power plant of GBPC, “together with the 100-MW coal power plant of DMCI Power in Concepcion, Iloilo, were designed to assure adequate, reliable, quality and cheaper electricity for the whole island of Panay in many years to come.”

“Ilonggos were banking on these power plants to solve their perennial brownout problems and high cost of electricity – obstacles to the attractiveness of Iloilo as an investment and tourism destination.”

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