Church leaders and youth in Atimonan town, Quezon on Good Friday took the lead once more in pushing for a swift and just transition to clean energy for the province and the country and in resisting destructive energy from coal, the continued use of which for power generation goes against the preservation of the integrity of Creation.
The call was made during an online devotion session for Holy Week called Daan ng Krus tungo sa Pagbabagong Ekolohikal (Way of the Cross towards Ecological Conversion) of the Our Lady of Angels Parish in Atimonan, inspired by the 2019 Pastoral Letter on Ecology of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si'.
"Mapagsumikapan nawa naming isulong ang dagliang paglipat sa ligtas, malinis, at murang eherhiya. Tiyakin ang makatarungan at patas na paglipat sa renewable energy sources at ibasura ang mga huwad na solusyon; makiisa sa kampanya sa madaliang pagtatanggal ng mga coal-fired power plants at iba pang nakadepende sa paggamit ng nakaruruming fossil-fuel," read the statement of the Parish of Atimonan, which is the site of a 1.2 GW coal power project proposed by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO)'s generation arm.
Coal plants have been on the receiving end of global backlash recently for their contributions to climate change, environmental impacts, increasing costs of construction and maintenance, and high price of electricity produced. Residents are concerned that the new project would exacerbate the suffering of local communities from polluting operations of the already installed 2.2 GW coal capacity in the province.
The Parish also called out financial institutions still supporting coal and other destructive projects, urging the public to unite against such financing activities: "Nawa'y magkaisa ang sambayanan sa pagsusulong ng divestment campaign upang ang mga pondo ng aming mga institusyon ay di mapalagak na puhunan sa mga coal-fired power plants, mga kumpanya ng pagmimina at iba pang mapanirang proyekto."
Local financiers of the A1E coal project include the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which, in a December 2020 report by the civil society and church-led campaign Withdraw from Coal, was found to have been the Philippine bank out of 15 others providing the biggest financial services to coal developers and projects from 2009 - 2019.
"The preservation of our natural world and protection of the right of our people - both those in the present and of generations to come - to live in a healthy environment is part and parcel of our duty as stewards of Creation. Quezon and many other provinces in the country have been suffering from coal's poison for far too long. We will not tire in rejecting this dirty energy source and calling out to its financial supporters to fully shift instead to investing in clean technologies until ecological conversion truly happens in our country," said Monsignor Noel Villareal of the Our Lady of Angels Parish.
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Monsignor Noel Villareal, Our Lady of the Angels Parish Priest, leads the virtual Station of the Cross with the theme of Ecological Conversion.
Parish youth tackle the role of coal and banks financing the dirty energy source in worsening environmental degradation and the climate crisis.