SAN JUAN, LA UNION—Wearing gas masks as they stood on their boards, four surfers unfurled a streamer calling for protection of La Union province to express their support to people’s opposition to a coal-fired power plant in Luna town.
The protest action was staged before the start of this year’s 12th Manila Surfers Association (MSA) Cup, where the four surfers were among 100 participants.
“Every year, MSA Cup provides us a chance to show our gratitude for the many joys the ocean gives us,” said MSA in a statement.
“It is our opportunity to show others how, as responsible visitors, we can sustain and continuously enjoy the sea,” it added.
It said this year, La Union “is facing a dangerous threat and we stand together to protect the beauty of La Union.”
The group also called on everyone, “surfer or nonsurfer to stand in united opposition against the coal-fired power plant and other environmental hazards.”
Since 2017, residents of the province, led by the Koalisyon Isalbar ti Pintas ti La Union (Coalition to Save the Beauty of La Union), have been opposing the 670-megawatt power plant project proposed by the Global Luzon Energy Development Corp. (GLEDC).
They said the project would pose health hazards to residents and destroy the province’s tourism industry.
Two 335-MW coal-fired generating facilities will be built on a 41-hectare land straddling the coastal villages of Carisquis and Nalvo Sur in Luna.
The project site is near beach resorts as well as the 3-kilometer stretch of pebble beach, where the once endangered, 400-year-old Spanish “baluarte” (watchtower) stood.
Balaoan town, known for its bountiful corn harvests and biodiverse coral gardens, and San Juan, the surfing capital of the North, are within the 5 to 20 aerial-km radius of the proposed plant.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted an enviromental clearance certificate to GLEDC in October last year, despite the residents’ opposition.
“I thank the MSA for supporting the people of La Union,” said Crisanto Palabay, chair of Koalisyon.