Aklan provincial government set to approve resolution against SMC’s hydropower plant project

September 11, 2021

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan is set to deliberate on a draft resolution expressing support to communities opposing the proposed hydropower dam project in Malay town. 

Five committees of the provincial council have submitted a draft resolution this week following a panel hearing on “the general sentiment and position” of the communities threatened by the proposed hydropower plant project.  

The committees on Environment; Public Works, Housing, Land Use, and Urban Relocation; Agriculture and Aquatic Resources; Energy, Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communication; and Laws, Rules, and Ordinances have sponsored the resolution. 

In the draft resolution, the panels said it is the position of the provincial council of Aklan that the opposition to the hydropower project by the communities “is solidly grounded and backed-up by reliable studies.

The panels said the negative environmental and social impacts of the project “outweigh whatever economic impact it may entail” if permitted to operate. 

Last month, the municipal council of Malay passed a resolution “strongly opposing” the 300 megawatts hydropower plant project. 

The project includes the construction of two dams or reservoirs along the Nabaoy and Imbaroto rivers and an underground powerhouse with a 577-meter access tunnel in Malay town in Aklan province.

Strategic Power Development Corp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Global Power Holdings Corp, will build the Php26.3-billion pumped-storage hydropower facility.

Dr. Rebecca Tandug of the network ‘Protect Northwest Panay Peninsula Parks and its Watersheds’ said the move of the provincial government is “good news for the affected communities.”

She said the proponent of the project must respect the stand and the decision of the people in the local community “who will suffer the impacts” of the proposed project.

Tandug encouraged other local government units to “look at the long term benefits of keeping the ecological reserve as a part of an investment portfolio and not just the short-term revenue that the powerplant promises to provide.”

The proposed hydro project will cover about 122 hectares of land area, including at least 22 hectares of land inside the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park.

Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines, said the government has the responsibility to protect the communities and the remaining biodiversity in Aklan. 

He said the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park is the “only remaining low-lying forest” on the island and “home to endemic species of flora and fauna and a habitat for the endangered wildlife.” 

The Department of Energy awarded the hydro service contract to the proponent in 2014.

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