SEMIRARA ELECTRICITY CUT OFF
Antique, Jan. 15, 2001 - A local official on Semirara Island in Antique province criticized Semirara Coal Corp., a subsidiary of DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) which got the government contract to haul garbage from Metro Manila, for cutting off electricity supply to the island.
The island has had no electricity since Friday morning, Caluya Vice Mayor Diosdado Egina said.
Semirara Coal, which operates a coal mine on the island, supplies local electricity coming from excess power it generates from its coal operations. Huge coal deposits are found on Semirara Island.
Residents of the island, together with ecological and rights groups, had blocked two barges from unloading their cargo of trash from Metro Manila on the island.
DMCI has a contract with the MMDA to design, build and operate a sanitary landfill project for Metro Manila's garbage in Semirara Island.
Egina said residents of the island had been earlier threatened of a power cutoff.
He, however, did not say for what reason.
"To regain the electricity is hopeless for now, they really cut off the substation here. What we are using at present in our office is a generator lend to us by one of the residents here," Egina said on radio.
Despite the absence of electricity, he assured the people of Semirara that he would continue opposing the use of the island as a dump for Metro Manila's garbage.
For a week now, Antiqueños have been picketing DMCI's office on the island. Only last Thursday, the picket line was dispersed by DMCI security personnel with the use of heavy equipment such as a bulldozer.
Egina said protesters will not lift the picket at the DMCI building.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) has released a statement opposing the Semirara dump plan.
In a board resolution last Jan. 10, signed by Herminio Maravilla as chairman, the IBC unconditionally rejected the dumping of Metro Manila garbage on Semirara island.
In rejecting the Semirara dump plan, the IBC noted the long-term hazardous effects of the project to the island's residents and its effects on nearby Boracay and the provinces of Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan and mainland Panay.
These environmental and health hazards include pollution of coastal waters, seepage and contamination of potable water sources, air pollution, degradation of the rich fishing areas around the island, and the risk of spreading deadly diseases that go with the garbage. (By Jun Ariolo N. Aguirre)
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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