MANILA, June 5, 2015—The Catholic Church in the Philippines has voiced its “strong opposition” to coal mining, noting how this will only make the country a major contributor to climate change, endangering the ecosystem, as well as the health and lives of people.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, stressed that the Church must make her disapproval known, staying at the forefront, given that the Philippine government is adamant in backing mining operations by asking for emergency power.
Destruction in disguise
“In the guise of providing more efficient energy source, higher tax revenues and the so-called greater development, the state and the multinational coal companies are opening another door for Philippines to becoming the major contributor to climate change,” stressed Gariguez, who made this statement during the launch of the “One Million Against Coal Campaign,” which tries to gather as many as a million signatures to promote resistance against the construction of coal-powered plants and coal mines nationwide.
The petition likewise hopes to persuade the Aquino administration to honor its commitment of combating and mitigating climate change effects and preventing natural calamities.
‘Don’t disregard health, lives’
Noting how the government is tasked to address the impending energy crisis, Gariguez explained those in power should also not disregard the health and lives of people who risk being sacrificed because of the power plants.
The priest cited studies that point to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired plants as the primary source of global warming.
He also mentioned its fatal effects on the environment and the people, especially on pregnant mothers and their babies.
Example of ‘Yolanda’
“The catastrophe we experienced from Typhoon Yolanda, which killed thousands and damaged billions of properties, is proof to this,” Gariguez added.
Data from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) show that there are 26 new coal plant projects expected to operate in the country by year 2020.
Among these is the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan One Energy power plant extension project, which will be erected soon in Atimonan, Quezon province. The said project will be the third coal plant in the province along with the Mauban Coal Plant and the Pagbilao Coal Plant.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is vocal in its protest against the said proposal, along with the Diocese of Lucena.
Besides advocacies on climate change, NASSA/Caritas Philippines has been working closely as well with the nine dioceses from Yolanda-hit areas through its recovery and rehabilitation program, one of which is REACH Philippines, which is now on its second year, giving shelter, water sanitation, and hygiene facilities, livelihood, and food security, and ecosystem recovery interventions to disaster survivors. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)