Negros Catholic schools join opposition vs coal plants

Negros Catholic schools join opposition vs coal plants

Young people of Negros Island sustained their silent protest which began in January until many students from Catholic schools joined them. This led to an executive order banning coal-fired power plants signed by former Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon, which was handed to Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos City on March 6, 2019 in front of hundreds of student protesters. LAUDATO SI PHILIPPINES

By Roy Lagarde

June 28, 2019

Manila, Philippines

Catholics schools in Negros island have objected to plans for a new coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City.

SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. wants to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the site.

But the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines – Negros Island opposes the scheme which they claim will harm the environment.

Citing data from the National Grid Corp., they argued that Negros Occidental has more than enough power supply.

“The proposal to build a coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City is dispensable and unnecessary,” said the association’s 92-member schools.

In joint pastoral statement issued in November 2018, the four bishops of Negros Island appealed to local officials to reject the proposal.

According to them, the coal-fired power plant poses threat not just to the environment, but also to the health of the people and sustainable development.

The Catholic schools urges the region’s lawmakers and local officials to instead resort to clean and renewable sources of energy.

They also urged officials “to open their channels of dialogue with their constituents before they allow companies to build and eventually operate a coal-fired power plant.”

The Living Laudato Si Philippines, a Catholic lay-led initiative calling on local financial institutions to divest from environmentally harmful activities to alleviate the rising climate crisis, lauded the Catholics schools in their stand against coal plants.

Rodne Galicha, the movement’s lead convenor, urged Negros Occidental’s new governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to assure the economic and environmental well-being of the province.

“He has the moral responsibility to also respond to the country’s efforts to slow down global warming and stop climate change from becoming worse,” said Galicha, who is also the executive director of Climate Action for Sustainability Initiative (KASALI).

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos also called on Lacson “to give a clear witness to his Christian faith and holiness even in politics”.

“That this is still possible in our time and age and ever more necessary and urgent!,” Alminaza said.

“We are willing to work with him in many other concerns and issues we mutually share for the sake of the common good but we are clear that as far as allowing coal in Negros, specifically in San Carlos City, we stand by Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si. This we will never compromise,” he assured.

Negros bishops up in arms over coal plant

Environmental advocates show their opposition to coal-fired power plants during a rally in Manila. GREENPEACE

By CBCP News

November 28, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Catholic bishops in Negros island are concerned about the impact of a coal-fired power plant proposed to be built on their area.

The prelates from the four dioceses in Negros are part of growing group of residents worried about San Miguel Corporation’s power unit SMC Global Power Holdings in San Carlos City.

In a statement released Nov. 23, the bishops from Bacolod, Dumaguete, Kabankalan and San Carlos dioceses said the plant poses threat to their environment, health and sustainable development.

“We appeal to our local government units and our electric cooperatives all over Negros not to entertain anymore any proposition of a coal-fired power plant in the province and elsewhere,” they said.

“Let us stand firm together in Negros — with each other and with our civic leaders — to oppose any new coal-fired power plants and to phase out those still in operation,” read the bishops’ statement.

The collegial pastoral statement came around a month after Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos sounded the alarm against the plan to build a 300-megawatt coal plant in the city.

SMC Global said it received clearance from the Energy department to conduct a grid impact study, a requirement before a power firm can proceed with the construction of the project.

The bishops urged people to “safeguard the gains and success we have achieved so far in improving our Renewable Energy sources and the huge projected excess power supply”.

“Let us work together to increase access to clean, renewable, and sustainable energy,” the church leaders said.

“Let us affirm our commitment to stewardship and to a clean development path that says no to coal and yes to renewable energy technologies that are accessible to everyone, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters,” they added.

Negros bishop opposes building of coal-fired power plant

By Roy Lagarde

October 12, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos

A Catholic bishop has objected to plans for a coal-fired power station in Negros Occidental, denouncing it as harmful to people and the environment.

San Miguel Corporation’s power unit SMC Global Power Holdings wants to build a 300-megawatt coal plant in San Carlos City.

The energy department gave it a clearance for a grid impact study, a requirement before a power firm can proceed with the construction of the project.

The DOE did not disclose other details.

But Bishop Genardo Alminaza of San Carlos urged local government officials to abandon the plans, saying that the country cannot tackle climate change by building new coal plants.

“We call on the city government of San Carlos and the provincial government Negros Occidental to disapprove any proposal or application of SMC Global or any company at all for a coal-fired power plant project,” said Alminaza.

“We encourage Negrosanons and local business industries to continue their real efforts towards a more sustainable and cleaner environment,” he said.

The bishop warned that backing dirty and dangerous energy resources would “stain” the UN’s recognition of the city as one of the world’s most livable cities.

The city, he added, is also considered as the energy hub of the Philippines and Southeast Asia with its biofuel and solar energy, together with the entire Negros.

“Not only will a new coal plant stain these existing global recognitions and honors, it will pollute as well the commons (water, air, land), harm human health and downturn community resilience,” Alminaza said.