BATANGAS City, May 5, 2016— Led by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, around 10,000 Filipinos from various Church groups, concerned citizens, and civil society organizations marched here today to call for a moratorium on new coal plants in the country.
With only five days to go before the elections, the demonstrators demanded that the next administration cancel all proposed coal-fired projects and shift to renewable energy.
“We are facing a planetary emergency. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are pro-people and pro-environment, not pro-coal and pro-climate change,” said the prelate. The prelate, along with local fisher folk and other social movements, are currently leading a fight against the building of a 600-megawatt coal plant in the city’s Pinamucan Ibaba village. “It is immoral to burden future generations with pollution and the cost of mistaken energy choices made today. It is time to end the age of coal,” he said.
The Church groups from the Philippines are coming together in the new GCCM-Pilipinas network to coordinate Catholic advocacy efforts in the country. This anti-coal march was the first opportunity for the group to go out to the streets with the Laudato Si’ message.
The anti-coal march highlighted a national campaign called “Piglas Batangas! Piglas Pilipinas!” symbolized by the struggle against the proposed project of JG Summit Holdings.
The local anti-coal groups were joined by other coal-affected communities from Quezon and other parts of the country, as well as people’s movements and civil society groups from Metro Manila and other provinces in Southern Luzon.
“Piglas is a call for the incoming president and other new government officials to scrap the Pinamucan coal plant and the other 26 proposed coal plants currently in the pipeline. It is also a demand for the phase-out of the 19 existing coal plants nationwide,” explained Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.
Ruel Cabile, national coordinator of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, said the next administration must review the current one’s commitment to reduce 70% of the country’s emissions by 2030.
“It must also demand climate finance from developed countries, as well as mobilize its own resources, so it can implement a swift and just transition to clean and renewable energy,” he added.
The campaign is part of a worldwide movement and the first in Asia to join “Break Free from Fossil Fuels 2016”, a global wave of peaceful direct actions across 12 days and six continents. Mass actions are scheduled until May 15 in other countries, including Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, Germany, and Australia.
Other communities will also be holding solidarity events in Cebu and Calaca, Batangas, which hosts the oldest coal plant in the country, among other areas.
“Piglas Batangas, Piglas Pilipinas is our battle cry for a safe, peaceful, and sustainable society. Batangas and the rest of the Philippines will not bow to those who think of nothing but profit instead of people and plunder instead of protecting the environment,” said Naderev ‘Yeb’ Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Coal represents darkness, and Break Free is our source of light, especially for all communities who are standing up in the face of the fossil fuel industry’s relentless expansion despite climate change and the people’s clamor for climate justice. Today, we declare that we will break free from coal,” he said. (CBCPNews)