Bataan folk protest demolition, relocation

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LIMAY, Bataan: Members of Limay Concerned Citizens Inc. (Licci) here have expressed apprehension over the impending demolition of their houses and eviction from the land they have been occupying for decades in barangay Lamao to give way to the expansion program of Petron Corp. and the operation of a coal fired power plant.

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Daizy Pedranza, vice-president of the 500-strong Licci, said they were alarmed after 15 more houses near the proposed 600-MGW coal fired power plant of San Miguel Global Consolidated Power Corp. were demolished last December.

The group added that because of the demolition some 1,000 houses more in the 13.6-hectare PEX site, where the plant is located, will be also affected.

These houses sit on the area near the coal fired power plant.

The coal power plant, according to Derick Cabe of Kilusan Pambansang Demokratiko, is said to start operation this year based on the timed table of its owner.

Cabe claimed that although the house owners accepted payment, the demolition was carried out without due process. Some households were reportedly paid between P30,000 and P300,000 for voluntarily relocation.

She cited the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum circular 134-2010, stating that no demolition should be undertaken without relocation.

Cabe said there must be adequate and genuine consultation with the community and available relocation site as required by the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) and other laws. Also, basic necessities like water and electricity, as well as livelihood opportunities, school and church must be provided before the relocation.

Pedranza, however, admitted that residents have no title to the lots, owned by the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), but insisted that due process must be observed.

“Hindi kami laban sa pag-unlad ng ekonomiya ng Limay. Hindi kami tutol na magtayo nang magtayo ng planta. Ang gusto lamang naming mangyari ay ang maayos na pamamaraan bago idemolis ang mga bahay [We are not against the economic progress of Limay. We are not against the construction of plants. What we only want is the correct process before the demolition of houses],” she said.

Another resident – Dolores Espinosa, 60, complained that about a hectare of land cultivated by her father for almost 30 years has been cleared without her consent. She said the land was planted with fruit-bearing mangoes, bananas, coconut and matured bamboos.

Piles of concrete posts were delivered in the area last December in spite her objection in the absence of an agreement from the coal plant owner, she added.

Other than their opposition to what they call improper demolition without relocation, Licci has been complaining on the problem of pollution in the area that allegedly caused respiratory ailments to the residents.

Cabe said their petition against pollution started in 2014, which they blamed on the operation of the 140-MGW coal plant of Petron and Bataan Refinery. She said the construction and operation of the plant should have been properly studied.

Meanwhile, Lamao village chairman Burt Reyes assured the residents that the more than 1,000 households in 13.6 hectares land in the area will not be affected, except the 56 families who accepted the relocation payment.

Reyes said the 56 households, in an earlier agreement with Bataan Gov. Albert Garcia, have accepted payment for the demolition of their houses situated within the two hectares land area, which is part of the power-coal plant site.

He said the governor assured those who agreed to voluntary demolition that they will be given priority in the planned relocation site. However, he could not confirm the location.

As to the health problems of villagers, Reyes said Petron has conducted free medical missions in the area.

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