Under a memorandum of agreement signed on October 16, 2020, the municipal government of Pandan has committed to lease 10 hectares of land to the proponent of the US$200 million Waste-to-Energy (WTE) power plant that would process as much as 1,800 tons of garbage per day once it operates.
In the deal signed by Mayor Honesto C. Tabligan II and Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Solutions, Inc. (APRES) chief executive officer and president Esberto B. Eubra Jr., the land will be the site where the latter would build, operate and maintain the WTE plant with a recycling material facility.
The MOA does not permit APRES to utilize the land for any other purpose unless otherwise authorized by the local government.
As the local government does not have such large parcel of land, it is not yet known whether it would lease or purchase the required land to comply with the agreement.
Under the same agreement, Pandan commits to issue a 25-year concession to APRES over the WTE plant which will process a target waste capacity of 1,200 to 1,800 tons per day.
The deal may be terminated at the instance of any of the parties or by reason of default, specifically any failure to comply with any of the terms or conditions of the agreement, or any misrepresentation or breach of warranty.
A copy of the agreement was furnished by a reliable source to the Tribune after a member of the Sangguniang Bayan alleged that the MOA was not presented to them at the time the council passed Resolution No. 2020-09-159 authorizing the mayor to enter into the agreement last September 2020.
The resolution was unanimously approved and signed by all council members, except for ABC President Solomon Trinidad Jr. whose signature was missing from the document.
After the development went public, concerned constituents circulated a petition opposing the proposed project, saying it would be highly hazardous to the health of the people of the town.
The burning of the garbage, they claimed, would produce smoke that would bring disease-causing pollution, which would affect Pandan’s tourism development and its water resources.
In a letter sent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Energy headed by PBM Edwin T. Tanael, the petitioners questioned the lack of public consultation by the Pandan SB on the proposal and the absence of a feasibility study from APRES, among others.
They asked whether the project already has a zoning clearance as far as the proposed site of Cagnipa is concerned and whether the proponent has secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Invited to an SP hearing, one of the councilors, Eustaquio Rodriguez, disclosed that he is planning to withdraw his support from the resolution, but was cautioned that he cannot just “withdraw” from a unanimously approved resolution.
Attending the SB’s special session in Pandan, PBMs Tanael and Alan del Valle said that the SP can only review ordinances and not resolutions.
Del Valle expressed his personal support for the WTE project which he described as “impressive” for its solution to the burgeoning garbage problem.
During the session, APRES Pres. Eubra disclosed that the energy generated by the WTE will be bought by the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) as renewable energy is the priority of the government.
On the recent advisory of the Diocese of Virac warning against a fake priest identified as Fr. Xavier Eubra de Borja, he said that when he came to Catanduanes, he never introduced himself as a priest.
“No life and no one is perfect,” he said. “If we acknowledge our mistake and correct them for a change and do better or for good, that makes our life fruitful and wonderful.”
He also said that Rafael-Javier Eubra, the name he used when he led the Opus Energy Solutions, Inc. that made a similar WTE deal with Caramoran LGU in 2019, is his baptismal name and nickname.
On the WTE, which he said is a Build-Operate-Transfer scheme, the company will operate it for 25 years after which it will then be run by the LGU.
“Our company will comply with the law and seek the required permits from government agencies, but one at a time,” Eubra told the special session.
He bared that the company has identified a site in Balangonan area but he has yet to talk to the landowner.
It was disclosed during the session that rumors in the barangay claim that the land had already been bought and that it would be converted into a garbage dump.
Due to the widespread misconceptions regarding the WTE project, PBM del Valle advised Pandananons not to worry as the government can stop the project at any time once they violate the rules.
Vice Mayor Eric Rodriguez also asked APRES to conduct more public consultations in all Pandan barangays and to submit to the council the WTE feasibility study.
Eubra agreed but asked the council to send an official request as the company could not reveal its trade secrets.