Case against EDC on Mt. Kanlaon exploration dismissed
EDC to pursue its exploration activities at Mt. Kanlaon in the Philippines, that are to boost power production at the Northern Negros Geothermal Power Plant, Negros Occidental.
In the Philippines, “a Regional Trial Court judge dismissed on Thursday a class suit filed against the Energy Development Corp. and others to prevent the firm from doing geothermal exploration at the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park buffer zone.”, so local news from the Philippines.
According to the piece, “The class suit was filed in 2008 against the Energy Development Corporation (then PNOC-EDC), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Energy, and the Protected Area Management Board for Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park. The group wanted the court to declare as unconstitutional the conversion of 169 hectares of protected primary forest into a ‘buffer zone’ for geothermal development.
Andrea Si and Andres Hagad, lawyers for the Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition, noted that certain provisions of Republic Act 9154 or the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park Act of 2000 violated the plaintiffs’ right to health and to a balanced ecology.
They also maintained that the conversion of the 169 hectares of primary forest into a buffer zone for geothermal development was not done in accordance with the procedure outlined by the National Integrated Protected Area Systems Law.
Bacolod RTC Judge Franklin Demonteverde said he dismissed the complaint filed by the Mt. Kanlaon Coalition for the failure of its lawyer, Si, to attend the hearing on time upon the motion of the defense lawyers.
On the other hand, Si said on Thursday that she was late by only 10 minutes, adding that she would be filing a motion for reconsideration.
Si said Delia Locsin, a complainant in the class suit, was in court when the case was called and the latter informed the judge that she was on her way but the opposing counsel moved to dismiss the case.
She also noted that the class suit involved constitutional issues and should not have been dismissed on the basis of a technicality.
Meanwhile, the Green Alert Negros in a press statement on Friday said it was disappointed by Demonteverde’s dismissal of the Civil Case No. 08-13236 filed by the Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition.
“The judge dismissed the case upon motion of opposing counsel because of procedural issues. The July 1 hearing was supposed to be the pre-trial before the hearing proper of Civil Case No. 08-13236,” the Green Alert Negros said in a statement.
The group also condemned the move of the DENR lawyers headed by Solicitor General Thomas M. Laragan and the EDC, adding that from the beginning, they had been using technicalities to delay the case.
Though appearing for the government, Laragan did not appear to be interested in a proper resolution of the issues raised in the class suit, the group added.
Si said their suit was of public interest, noting that a portion of the forest has already been lost.
Since the filing of the case, EDC has conducted geothermal exploration in the buffer zone and has drilled for steam, which it will use to boost the power production of its Northern Negros Geothermal Power Plant in Bago City, Negros Occidental.
Another judge had earlier denied the group’s petition for a temporary restraining order to stop the EDC from cutting trees, drilling and other civil works within the buffer zone.”