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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, January 18, 2019
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Anti-coal fighters gird for long battle


San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza yesterday reiterated the call for the Negros Occidental and San Carlos City governments to deny the application of SMC Global Power Holdings, or any other firm planning to put up a coal-fired power plant in the province.

The Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Energy is currently conducting hearings on a proposed ordinance endorsed by Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., to disallow the exploration, establishment and operation of any coal-fired power plant in the province.

San Miguel Corp. Global Power is planning to install a 300-megawatt CFB (circulating fluidized bed) coal-fired power plant in San Carlos.

Alminaza and six environment advocates held a press conference at the Bacolod Bishop’s House to again air their opposition to coal-fired power plants and warn of their dangers to the environment and people’s health.

Romana de los Reyes, an anti coal-fired power plant campaigner, asked SMC if it is “willing to face a long drawnout opposition battle in San Carlos.”

“Negrosanons have shown since 1997 that they will do whatever it takes to stop a coal plant,” she said, pointing out that they have done so in Bago, Silay, Cadiz and Sipalay cities and Pulupandan town, where the longest running fight against coal was experienced.

She said her appeal to SMC is to put its money in already studied renewable energy sources in Negros Occidental. De los Reyes cited the wind power potential of Pulupandan, Cauayan and Salvador Benedicto, and the hydropower of Bago City.

Alminaza said progress can be achieved by sustainable and climate-friendly means, that is why the Diocese of San Carlos is opposing the planned SMC plant.

“We strongly appeal to them to invest their capital instead in developing sources of renewable energy,” he said.

San Carlos City was recognized by the United Nations as one of the most livable cities in the world, he said. It is considered as the energy hub of the Philippines and Southeast Asia with its biofuel, solar and geothermal energy, together with the entire Negros, he added.

Not only will a new coal plant stain the existing global recognitions and honors of San Carlos City, it will pollute its water, air and land, and harm human health and downturn community resilience, Alminaza warned.

He called on Negrosanons and local business industries to continue real efforts towards a more sustainable and cleaner environment.

“Coal is of the past, of the industrial revolution. We are now in the era of digital and sustainability revolution in which we learned the wrongs of the past. With a coal fired power plant in Negros and other parts of the country, we are moving backwards. We need to move forward as technology and innovation advances,” the bishop said.

“A paradigm shift is necessary. This is our moral responsibility,” he stressed.

Also at the press conference with Alminaza and delos Reyes were Arvin Buenaagua of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development, Krishna Ariola of Linghod, Sheena Katrina Orihuela of Living Laudato Si PH Movement/Climate Reality Project Philippines, and Julieto Sarmiento and Michael Saalfield of WeGen.*


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