Letter to Sen. Legarda

Pagtatap Foundation, Inc.
c/o Dr. Robert Peter Alojipan
OPD, Makati Medical Center
Makati, Metro Manila

November 20, 2002

The Honorable Senator Loren Legarda
Philippine Senate
Manila, Philippines

Dear Madam:

When we waged our campaign to stop MMDA from dumping Metro Manila’s garbage on Semirara Island, you joined forces with us all the way. In fact, it was the Senate committee hearing you orchestrated that was the turning point in tipping the scale in our favor. We will never forget that.

Once again, we are facing another enemy—NAPOCOR (National Power Corporation) that wants to relocate its diesel power plant in Patria, Pandan, Antique from Pangasinan since the residents there had rejected its 10-year-old generator due to its irreversible damage to their fishponds. We seem to come out as the lowest of humans because we have been relegated to being either a “dumpsite” or a receptacle for “rejects.”

From the research we have gathered, the far-reaching negative implications of the power plant lead us to believe that lives, livelihood, quality of life, the environment and its ecosystem are in great danger of eventual destruction. This time it is our very own land and our very own kasimanwas that are in jeopardy.

Part of our objections regarding the power plant is its dire proximity to the Northwest Panay Peninsula’s Natural Park which was declared by President Macapagal-Arroyo as a “protected area” on April 25, 2002, pursuant to Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated and Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. The site (situated in the municipalities of Pandan and Libertad in Antique, and the municipalities of Nabas, Malay, and Buruanga in Aklan) will be greatly affected and endangered by the power plant and we will consequently lose:

a) the only source of potable water for three municipalities;
b) the last significant tracts of lowland rainforest within the West Visayas Biogeographical Region;
c) a potential for eco-tourism due to the presence of Malumpati and Kenyang falls that serve as ideal recreational sites with six major caves within the area;
d) its forests harbor diverse species of both flora and fauna that include critically endangered birds and mammals unique to Panay Island such as the Visayan warty pig, spotted deer, and golden-crowned flying fox; the Visayan tarictic hornbill, writhed-bill hornbill, Negros bleeding-heart pigeon, Philippine hawk eagle, white-throated jungle flycatcher, Visayan flowerpecker, and the Visayan water monitor, to name a few;
e) a potential for medicines, foods, fibers, oils, and construction materials; and
f) the area has been identified by Environment Secretary Alvarez as an Extremely High-Urgent site for conservation of the country’s biological diversity.

NAPOCOR was able to encroach upon Patria, Pandan, Antique because the proclamation’s “protected area” is limited only to the rainforest and does not include the adjacent seashores and coastal areas of the Peninsula. And yet these gaps of unprotected areas in the NW Panay Peninula leave the “protected area” of the President’s proclamation prone and vulnerable to nearby exploitations by companies and predators. In this regard, we propose that the “protected area” needs to be modified to include: a) all the seashores and coastal areas of the whole NW Panay Peninsula; b) the beaches and corals of the five municipalities; and c) five kilometers of the coastal seas from the shore for buffer zones. Extending the boundaries as proposed would ensure that the proclamation is being made to fit the people, the municipalities, and the ecosystem it is meant to serve and protect.

We are asking for your help in preventing NAPOCOR from building its power plant in Patria or in any part of the Northwestern Panay Peninsula. Please support our proposal to extend the boundaries of the “protected area” in President Macapagal’s Proclamation No.186 so we do not live in fear of invaders who will find loopholes to encroach upon us and plague our existence.

As has always been the case, we look up to you as our savior, and you have not let us down. We come to you because you have the wisdom to discern, the power to protect, and the compassion to heal.

Thank you for being there, and more power to you.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) Robert Peter Alojipan, M.D.
President, Pagtatap Foundation

Note: During the meeting of the NAPOCOR Representatives with the Sangguniang Bayan of Pandan, they said that the diesel power plant will be coming from Pangasinan. But according to their project profile that was given to the Mayor of Pandan, Plaridel “John” Sanchez, it is going to be the Pinamucan Diesel Power Plant of Enron Development Corporation which will be transferred to Pandan. Based on our research, Pinamucan is a place in Batangas. Enron has only two diesel power plants in the Philippines, one in Subic and one in Pinamucan, Batangas.