[Press Release] Health Complaints Mar LNG (Fossil Gas) Operations in Batangas City, Philippines |PMCJ

Health Complaints Mar LNG (Fossil Gas) Operations in Batangas City, Philippines

BATANGAS CITY, PHILIPPINES – The country’s foremost LNG capital province is now at the hot seat as petitions are filed by communities in the five barangays of the city Monday morning.

Citing “abnormally high levels of respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases” in barangays Dela Paz proper, Ilijan, Malitam, Sta. Rita Karsada, Tabangao Ambulong, and Tabangao Aplaya in Batangas City, the affected communities, and civil society organizations have filed petitions before different government offices including the local government unit of said city.

The barangays mentioned host five operating liquified natural power plants, also known as fossil gas plants with a combined 3,45 GW LNG capacity.

The petition cites Batangas City Health Office data from 2017 to 2021 showing “alarming” rates of morbidity within the vicinity of the fossil gas power plants, with respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular diseases as the leading causes, particularly in Brgys. Dela Paz Proper, Ilijan, Malitam, Sta. Rita Karsada, Tabangao Ambulong, and Tabangao Aplaya. According to the petition, the same trend is seen in Brgy. Sta. Rita Aplaya in data for March to October 2022. Meanwhile, in Brgy. Sta. Rita Karsada where the First Gen fossil gas power plant is located, the leading cause of children’s morbidity is respiratory infections, and for adults and infants, it is pneumonia.

“Hindi binibigyang pansin ang matagal nang mga dinadaing karamdaman ng mga residente. Hindi mawawala ang paglaganap at paglala ng mga sakit na aming iniinda habang patuloy na tumatakbo ang mga planta na malapit sa aming mga kabahayan at kabuhayan. Sana ay agad matugunan ng pamahalaan ang aming karaingan.” lamented Leonora Tolentino, a resident of Dela Paz Proper, Batangas City.

According to the petitioners, there is unequivocal evidence showing that fossil gas is equally dirty, deadly, and costly as coal. National Geographic and the US Environmental Protection Agency data referred to in the petition identifies methane, the main emission of fossil gas, as significantly more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas while nearby communities continue to be at risk of the same health complications associated with other fossil fuels.

“The prevalence of diseases that may be attributed to fossil gas operations should prompt the officialdom to take a hard look into the health situation of the affected communities. Continued exposure to fossil gas operations could lead to a health crisis.”, warned Dr. Ben Molino. Dr. Molino, together with health experts, has looked into the morbidity and mortality data cited in the petition.

Resident complainants, along with Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Piglas Batangas, Sanlakas, Batangas All for Renewable Energy, (Batangas A-RE), and Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), are seeking an investigation into the health impacts of fossil gas in their communities.

They likewise call for the denial of all permit applications for fossil gas projects in Batangas City and the issuance of a cease and desist order against the ongoing construction of the Batangas Combined Cycle LNG Power Plant in Dela Paz Proper and other proposed fossil gas projects such as AG&P Ilijan FSRU, Shell LNG Import Terminals, and Batangas Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant.

“The continued inaction of the Government can only be understood as an endorsement of the fossil gas operations in Batangas City despite the deteriorating health situation in the communities. Sadly, as the Government aggressively promotes fossil gas, it has done little to nothing in addressing the illnesses that may be associated with project operations. While recognizing the need to address the energy needs of the country, this should not be a license to allow fossil gas operations unchecked. When a project is a threat to the well-being of its people, the logical response is to abate that threat and not be complicit in it. The Government is duty-bound to protect the health of its people as a constitutional mandate.”, said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary-General of Sanlakas.

“The coal moratorium of the DOE back in 2020 is a commendable move as it canceled a big portfolio of coal projects. However, the alarming exacerbation of the climate crisis laid out by the IPCC has shown that we must now go beyond it. It is no longer enough to prohibit the construction of greenfield coal projects – we must extend this prohibition to all fossil fuel projects across the industry and this includes both coal and fossil gas. Our commitment to reducing GHG emissions and the depletion of our domestic gas reserves in Malampaya shows that continued fossil fuel dependence threatens the planet, community health, and the country’s energy security all at the same time. A planned and managed phaseout would address this issue and will encompass not only decommissioning but also the halting of all existing projects in the pipeline.”, said Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of PMCJ.

According to PMCJ, the petition is only the opening salvo in a campaign to call upon climate advocates within the Philippine government to conduct an energy review of the Philippine power industry. According to the organization, the long overdue process of renewable energy development in the country can be achieved through a planned and managed phaseout of all fossil fuel power plants in the country.

For Inquiries:
Larry Pascua
Senior Energy Officer
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

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