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Tagkawayan is first PH town to reject fossil fuel facilities and prioritize RE, say environmentalists

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The town of Tagkawayan in Quezon is the first in the Philippines to reject the entry of fossil fuel facilities and commit to prioritizing and incentivizing renewable energy development, said the Power for People Coalition (P4P) in a news release.

The declaration, which was formalized in Municipal Ordinance No. 190-2024, is the first of its kind in the country and should inspire other jurisdictions to do the same, said the national clean energy advocacy group P4P.

Tagkawayan Mayor Carlo Eleazar said the local leadership recognizes that traditional energy sources destroy the environment and damage people’s health.

After the third and final hearing in the municipal session hall last July 1, Eleazar said: “This ordinance declares that Tagkawayan has no place for all fossil-based power projects.”

“Through the legislation of this ordinance, we are building a barricade to express our rejection of any project that may cause disruption to the environment which we know is interconnected to the peaceful life of our people. Rather, we will only support renewable energy projects which are far more sustainable, cleaner, and cheaper than the destructive fossil fuels,” the town mayor site.

Tagkawayan is the site of a fossil fuel-based 1,200-megawatt liquid natural gas (LNG) power plant project. Proposed by Orion Pacific Prime Energy Inc., it is one of the biggest projects in Quezon.

Tagkawayan is also the site of a proposed diverse 905-megawatt renewable energy project, comprising of geothermal, wind, and solar sources.

The local Catholic Church supports the town leadership in its advocacy for the environment.

Fr. Warren Puno, of Quezon for Environment (QUEEN) and Director of the Ministry of Ecology of the Diocese of Lucena, said that if other areas make the same declaration, “a just energy transition” will happen faster.

“We hope that the perseverance of Mayor Eleazar and the people of Tagkawayan to fight against fossil fuel development in his municipality would grow a wildfire of support and initiatives on other towns so we could better facilitate just energy transition in the province especially now that it is becoming a hotspot for fossil fuel expansion in the country,” he said.

P4P convenor Gerry Arances said that aside from destroying the environment, fossil fuel power plants also produce expensive electricity for the community.

“Far too many communities have had to suffer the devastating impacts of coal and gas, in Quezon or elsewhere in the country. Far too many pockets have also been drained by the costly electricity that these power plants produce,” Arances said.

“We are glad to see Tagkawayan’s championship of clean and affordable energy from renewables. Our country has an abundant potential for renewables, and we are only barely scratching the surface when it comes to benefiting from it,” he added. 

Arances is also the Executive Director of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), which recently published a report that assessed the impacts of fossil fuel facilities to air quality in selected sites in Quezon and other provinces. 

Councilor John Pocholo Eleazar, author of the ordinance, said Tagkawayan should develop in line with environment conservation.

“The enactment of this ordinance is a symbol of our collective aspiration for a cleaner, greener, and vibrant future of Tagkawayan. Today, we are declaring our dedication for a brighter and stronger future which we hope will also serve as a ray of change and hope even to other municipalities,” the councilor said.

Supporters of the ordinance are hopeful that beyond Tagkawayan, the provincial board of Quezon will pass the ordinance on the provincial level as well.

Tagkawayan Mayor Carlo Eleazar fully supports the ordinance. “Let us not allow fossil-based projects in our towns. Some say that fossil-based energy is cheaper and produces energy at a faster rate. But in my opinion, we should rather see how lasting its effects will be to our environment, to the health and livelihood of our people, to which profit can never commensurate,” he said.

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