By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/07 Dec. 2011) – The legislative inquiry by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon yesterday attracted so much attention when forefront advocates against geothermal exploration stage a condemnation rally that clouded the clear cut intention of the Department of Energy to explore geothermal energy within the periphery of Mt. Bulusan.
The Board, desirous of the data and other information from the lead energy agency of the national government, convened as a committee of the whole and probed DOE representatives on the phasing of the project with a view to appease the anti-exploratory groups who since morning stage a protest action at the capitol park before they were ordered to transfer to the Freedom Park before the start of the inquiry.
The anti-exploratory group composed of Alyansa Laban sa Abuso ng Bulkan Bulusan and the Irosin Coalition Against Geothermal took turns denouncing the ill-effects of the projects and came in numbers, a signal that they are consistent with their opposition with the project.
Using social network sites with the help of Board Member Vladimir Frivaldo of the Second District, they issued a manifesto that cited inconsistencies in the approach of the energy agency which is short of labeling the DOE as lackey of private interest groups.
Taking the heat for DOE was Atty. Marissa Cerezo of the Renewable Energy Management Bureau who is also a geologist, explained the frequently asked questions and the laid out the stages of the exploratory project and Geologist Benjamin Monzon, Project Director of Summa Kumagai Geothermal, Inc. who testified that SKI is wholly owned by Filipinos.
Both at various stages showed composure’s, even to the point of BM Dave Duran III assertion that he do not believed in the technical capacity of SKI to undertake exploratory geothermal work.
Since the issue of exploratory area is Mt. Bulusan, it was clear that the volcano’s name was use as identifying place but not specifically within the perimeter of the danger zone of the active volcano. Senior volcanologist Ed Laguerta opined that active volcanoes can be explored for geothermal use created a stir in the gallery who were packed with supporters of the anti-geothermal groups.
In the discussion RA 7160 was mentioned, RA 9513, the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, RA 9367, the Biofuel Act of 2006 and the NIPAS Act which becomes the basis of LGU Bulusan to issue a Sanggunian Resolution prohibiting geothermal exploration. In this vein, Atty. Cerezo said that they have yet to receive copy of the resolution so for them to asked the concerned LGU why are they prohibiting a national initiative.
Frivaldo revealed that LGU Irosin is coming out with an SB Resolution prohibiting the exploratory works in identified barangays, though information education campaigns were initiated by DOE and SKI as service contractor of the project.
Prior to the inquiry, DOE requested a close door meeting with Governor Lee together with Vice-Governor Antonio ‘Kruni’ Escudero, Jr. Seen also were BM Rebecca Aquino, she chairs the environment committee of the provincial board, Engineer Monzon of SKI, Volcanologist Ed Laguerta at the time that the anti-geothermal groups were staging their protest action at the capitol park.
Since exploring the geothermal potentials of Mt. Bulusan become a contentious issue, environment agencies were present at the inquiry. The concern of BM Frivaldo in his letter to Vice-Governor Escudero, Jr., requesting his resource person to participate in the inquiry was not granted, however, the vice-governor ordered that the next session of the inquiry all those who are against the exploratory phase of the project will be invited to voice their concern before the board issue any resolution, if need be, or any collegial action for that matter.
While inside the session hall all eyes are focus on the representatives of DOE and SKI, the multi-sectoral groups are all voices in condemning the development plan of DOE and SKI for Mt. Bulusan, handing out their statement of concern and likewise took its own gallery of listeners which made the issue a table discussion in the various department of the provincial government. BicolToday.com
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