Cause-oriented groups are centering their campaign against putting up of “dirty” sources of energy, joining a global movement among Christians who are united in prayer and action for the creation.
‘No to coal power plants in Cebu’
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - September 7, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — To oppose the establishment of more coal-fired power plants in Cebu continues to be the rallying cry of local environmental advocates here.

Cause-oriented groups are centering their campaign against putting up of “dirty” sources of energy, joining a global movement among Christians who are united in prayer and action for the creation.

Various entities led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) staged a “climate walk” rally on Thursday morning in downtown Cebu City to show their dissent over the ongoing plans of big corporations to build coal power plants here in the province.

Environmental lawyer Jose Aaron Pedrosa Jr. shared that a recent Pulse Asia survey showed nine out of 10 Filipinos favor a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“This position is likewise reflected in Cebu where there is growing opposition to coal plant operations based on our dirty experience in Toledo and Naga,” said Pedrosa, the co-chair of the Energy Working Group of PMCJ.

“That Cebu City issued a resolution declaring the city as a coal-free zone and later rejected a proposed coal plant project reaffirms the escalating opposition to carbon-intensive energy technologies in favor of clean renewable options,” he added.

Pedrosa, however, lamented that the “fight is far from over.” He alleged that there are more coal power plant projects in the pipeline.

“We urge the Cebuano officialdom in calling on the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to reject new ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate) applications for coal plant projects until an environmental audit of coal impacts to the environment and community is done and that adequate and robust standards for environmental protection are in place. DENR has no mandate being paper-pusher for coal corporations,” he said.

The use of coal as energy source was highlighted in the protest which is one of the local campaigns in Cebu that respond to a bigger global movement among Christians.

The Church has declared September 1 to October 4 the “season of creation” which seeks to encourage communities to support the journey toward better care of the Earth or the "common home."

Yesterday, protesters wore black shirts to mourn with the "dying" Mother Earth, calling for the government to shift to renewable energy to save the environment.

Protesters assembled at the Santo Rosario Parish church and walked 550 in going to Gaisano Metro Colon while reciting the Holy Rosary and bringing with them lighted candles.

A participant, who represented Mother Earth clad in a costume, closed the main program by releasing a dove that symbolized freedom.

The protesters' message: "Maghiusa ang katawhan alang sa kagawasan sa hugaw nga enerhiya sa Sugbo!"

Meanwhile, the members of coal-affected communities, electric consumers, climate justice and environmental groups stormed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and conducted simultaneous actions in different areas in the country to press DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and other local officials to put a halt on the country’s ‘coal obsession’ and listen to the demand of the 89 percent of the Filipinos who do not want energy to be sourced from dirty coal.

“The negative impacts of coal are being felt by every consumer and much more by the communities living in the coal sites,” said Teody Navea, Cebu coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, in a statement.

Navea said the resistance against coal is growing in many parts of the country.

“Aside from killing us with every breath we take, these coal plants are stealing money from our pockets in the disguise of our electricity bills,” added Navea.

Currently, the Philippines houses 28 operational coal plants and 28 more coal projects are reportedly in the pipeline.

Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development, urged the government to execute what is being told by the numbers and by the communities affected. (FREEMAN)

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