Correspondence "Clean" energy in Batangas for dirty profit

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

Big local and foreign business drool over the province of Batangas because of its natural resources and its vital location in the country and the region.

For several years, the reactionary state has been prating about reducing reliance on fossil fuels (oil and coal) as the country’s source of energy. Under the Duterte regime, the country began to allow foreign investors in renewable and clean energy. Under the Marcos regime, it allowed 100% foreign ownership of such facilities.

The demand of many sectors of society for clean energy to protect the environment and save the world from climate change is valid and just. But this is not the goal of foreign companies and their comprador bourgeois partners, as well as bureaucrat-capitalists, who have quickly jumped into the renewable energy bandwagon.

Only a few families and companies nationwide own plants that generate and supply electricity, using wind, water, coal and LNG. The Ayalas and Aboitiz, businessmen Manny V. Pangilinan, Ramon Ang and Enrique Razon Jr. have such facilities in Batangas. Sen Loren Legarda’s son Leandro Leviste who owns Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings Inc (SPPPHI) is also based there. The Tan family operates the Citicore Solar Power Plant in Tuy that supplies electricity to Emperador and Tanduay Distillery in Balayan and Lian.

In 2016, Leviste built SPPPHI’s first solar farm on 160 hectares of flat land in Calatagan. In 2023, Leviste and Razon bought two more solar farms in Batangas. They plan to build the widest solar farm covering the province, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.

Also in December 2023, Pangilinan announced the bankruptcy of Roxaco Land Corporation in Nasugbu. At the same time, Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc (CADPI)—one of the two sugar factories in the province and the second largest in the country—was partially closed.

By the year 2024, the reason for Pangilinan’s decision that threatened the livelihood of thousands of Batangueño sugarcane farmers was exposed. He announced in March that he had bought Solar Phil New Energy Corporation (SPNEC), a company under Leviste’s SPPPHI. In exchange, he sold Roxaco to Leviste. The wide and flat sugarcane field like Hacienda Roxas favors Leviste to easily install thousands of solar panels.

These big capitalists claim that they aim to produce cheap electricity for the country, but the reality is just the opposite. The price of electricity only continues to rise because the market is monopolized by a few. Those who control the supply themselves also control the distribution.

Thousands of farmers and fisherfolk are being evicted from their communities to make way for the plants and facilities. These include the 26,000-hectare geothermal powerplant of Abotiz in San Juan, Lobo, Rosario and Taysan, the 10,000-hectare solar farm of Leviste and Razon in the western part of Batangas.

Basic Energy’s wind powerplant will be added to the scene, covering 2,835-hectares of land along the coast of Balayan and Calatagan owned by Ramon Villavicencio. The Philippine National Oil Company plans to build a similar plant right in the middle of the Mabini sea.

As these companies race to construct their respective facilities, they are trampling on the welfare of many Batangueños who stand to lose their homes, land, and livelihood. This is compounded by environmental destruction due to irresponsible coastal development and poisoning of water resources in the Verde Island Passage.

"Clean" energy in Batangas for dirty profit