SABLAN, Benguet – Concerned residents vehemently reiterated their opposition to the proposed put up of a waste to energy plant in the municipality because of its projected serious negative impact to the state of the environment aside from the pollution that it will cause considering that it is a form of incineration.
Sources, who requested anonymity for personal and security reasons claimed that the proposed construction of the said multi-billion project did not pass through the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process pursuant to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as Sablan is an ancestral domain of the Ibalois.
The sources also questioned the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) on why did it allow the proponent to process its environmental compliance certificate (ECC) when the communities have yet to issue their consent for the project considering that social acceptability is one of the major requirements for the processing of the said document.
The sources fear that the proponent is allegedly using the document that it earlier secured from the municipal government that the municipality does not object to the conduct of a study on the feasibility of putting up the project to justify the processing of the ECC which is in violation of existing rules and regulations.
According to them, Sablan people will not allow their municipality to become the dumping ground of generated waste from Baguio because of the magnitude of pollution that it will cause to the communities, especially the barangays that will be traversed by the waste that will be transported to the proposed facility and the villages surrounding the plant who will surely be exposed to massive air, noise and land pollution.
Even an influential property owner near the proposed site of the waste to energy plant stipulated that he was not consulted about the project and that he is wondering why personalities allied with the proponents are claiming that majority of the municipal officials have allegedly endorsed the project and that it is already in the permitting stage.
The sources warned that if the revelation of the personalities close to the proponent is true, then the municipal officials will surely be confronted with various legal suits that will surely compromise their respective political careers for giving priority to the addressing the garbage problems of Baguio city instead of trying to uphold the welfare of their constituents in Sablan.
The sources also questioned the municipal officials on their being silent about what is being done by the proponent as if there was already a done deal between them and the proponent as well as some Baguio City officials who are aggressively pushing for the put up of the facility and the eventual conversion of the municipality as a dumping ground of hazardous waste from neighboring communities.
The sources challenged concerned government agencies in charge of issuing the permits for the project to demand from the proponent the necessary proof that there was already a social acceptance of the project through the required FPIC process before proceeding to process the necessary documents for them to proceed with the project. Contributed article