Lipa, 10 thousand people march against coal plants

Led by their Archbishop, the protesters are asking the president who will be elected on 9 May to dismantle all polluting power plants in the country. Msgr. Arguelles: "We are in the middle of a planetary emergency. We only use fossil fuels”. The energy needs of the nation are great, some areas there without power for 4-5 hours a day. Regional superior: "We hope that there is power at least on election day."

Lipa (AsiaNews) - At least 10 thousand people responded to the appeal of the Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles and marched in protest against the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the Philippines, which endanger the health of citizens.

The protesters came from various parts of the country and were joined by various civil society organizations. Five days before the election for a new president, the archbishop is appealing to the next administration to suspend all construction projects of new fossil fuel burning plants and replaced them with renewable energy power plants.

"We are facing a planetary emergency. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are pro-people and pro-environment, not pro-coal and pro-climate change" said the prelate.

The population is particularly objecting to the opening of a 600-megawatt plant in the village of Pinamucan Ibaba, close to Batangas. According to the prelate, " It is immoral to burden future generations with pollution and the cost of mistaken energy choices made today. It is time to end the age of coal ".

National Coordinator of the Movement for Climate Justice, Ian Rivera, explains that the march "Piglas is a call for the incoming president and other new government officials to scrap the Pinamucan coal plant and the other 26 proposed coal plants currently in the pipeline. It is also a demand for the phase-out of the 19 existing coal plants nationwide".

The lack of electricity "is an emergency in Fillipine - said Fr. Giovanni Re, PIME regional superior - especially at a time of drought like the one we are experiencing. This is why the government builds new coal plants. In Mindanao, for example, we have no power for 4-5 hours every day. This explains why the government and private persons want to produce more electricity. " In addition, "the biggest concern is that there is power at least on election day, when the votes will be counted. The authorities said that install generators capable of providing sufficient watts ".

According to Fr. Re,  Manila is moving to create alternative sources of energy: "In some areas, for instance in the north, the government has built large wind farms, which produce electricity with the wind. In Batangas region, however, it is trying to install more solar panels, some of which are already in operation. But the need for electricity is so great that the power produced by this renewable energy is not enough. "

The battle between coal-fired power plants and the local population, said the priest, "it is a battle that has lasted for many years. The former claim that they are using the latest technology and that pollution is very limited. The other side is an information campaign that warns against exposure to pollution from coal. People who live near the plants, therefore, are opposed to their construction. It is not so easy to find a solution given the demand for energy”.