SAN CARLOS CITY – Local officials here revealed that the city government is poised to gain P500 million every year from the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.
Councilor and vice mayor-elect Christopher Carmona and re-elected Councilor Mark Cui said yesterday that the economic gains from the coal-fired power plant can bring progress for the city.
They are looking to a yearly revenue of around P200 million in taxes, another P200 million in real property tax, and P100 million in business tax once the plant starts to operate. They said part of the funds will be used for school buildings and roads.
Carmona said “We want progress for San Carlos because I think they’re going to pay a lot of taxes when they put up the plant here. That would help a lot of people here in terms of employment.”
Cui said around 2,000 to 3,000 jobs will be generated once the construction begins and another 700 when it is finished. He added they don’t know about the timetable of the project because SMC Global is still processing the necessary documents.
Outgoing Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. had earlier issued an executive order declaring Negros Occidental a coal-free province.
But for Carmona, Marañon is already stepping down on July 1 and there will be a new administration that may be pro-coal plant. Governor-elect Eugenio Jose Lacson, who was also a former mayor of San Carlos City, earlier said he will not stand in the way if the officials of his home city push for the realization of the project.
Carmona reiterated that the money “could help the city a lot” in terms of development programs. He added, “if you go around San Carlos, you would see a developed city. But if you go to the mountainside, students travel hours just to get to school.”
He also added that the coal-fired power plant will also address the increase of energy demand because the population is getting bigger.
Carmona pointed out that the emissions to be produced by the plant will be “clean,” contrary to the claims of the opposition. “Our technology now is better than before,” he added.
The two host barangays, Punao and Palampas, had earlier passed a resolution on no objection to the project.
Danny Suan, Barangay Palampas captain, said their local economy will really improve and it will also generate jobs for his constituents. The plant will also address the power outages in their area, he added.
His sentiment was echoed by Sofronio Senador, Barangay Punao captain, saying that many of his constituents don’t have jobs. He added that it will also boost the economy of his barangay and its neighboring villages.
But San Carlos Diocese Bishop Alminaza, a staunch critic of the project, said that claiming a coal-fired power plant is clean energy is a “dirty lie.”
He pointed out that the wastes and particulate matter emitted from the plant are “still toxic.” He added, “Because of poverty, people did not develop to think critically. That’s very sad.”
He said that when they were called to the city hall for a dialog with the city officials, “they were all prepared to convince us, rather than listen to us. The message was, it’s a done deal.”
He said the Church had been a partner of the local government in its environmental initiatives such as a plastic-free ordinance, no smoking ordinance, zero waste management, but “not this. We can’t support this.”
He said they’re prepared for the worst but they’re not losing hope. “As long as it’s not there yet, there is still a chance.”
He said they’re expecting that the EO of Marañon can be superseded by his successor, that’s why they want an ordinance. He said they will gather enough signatures for the People’s Initiative ordinance.*
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