7,000 religious sector, youth members form 'human chain' for coal-free Negros
SAN CARLOS CITY, Philippines – Some 7,000 members of the religious sector and the youth formed a “human chain” on Monday, April 22, which is also Earth Day, to oppose the construction of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant here.
Those who joined the chain, which stretched the 229-kilometer road from Manapla in Negros Occidental to La Libertad in Negros Oriental – the localities under the 45 parishes of the Diocese of San Carlos – braved the heat to fight the entry of coal-fired power plant in the province.
The activity lasted from 8 am to 8:30 am.
San Carlos Diocese pastoral director Fr. Edwin Laude said most of the participants were from the younger generation, adding the protest was the “cause of everybody.”
He said they are hoping that the activity will educate the local leaders, who are supposed to be the decision makers, into not pursuing the construction of the coal-fired power plant in the northern Negros Occidental city by the SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.
It’s “very clear” that San Carlos city officials are supporting the building and operation of the coal-fired power plant as they’re pushing for its realization, Laude said. “We understand it’s about politics...politics is used in chaining our people,” he added.
Laude also said they’re banking on provincial government officials to uphold the executive order (EO) of outgoing Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.. declaring Negros Occidental as coal-free, although, he expressed concern that the Provincial Board might revoke the EO.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, who is expected to win the governorship in May, has yet to show his stand on the issue.
Laude said Lacson was open to either side, but noted there was "no assurance... he’s from San Carlos and he loves San Carlos. Hopefully, that love will turn into a strong stand against the coal-fired power plant. He was once a mayor of San Carlos, which received so much recognition for its pro-environment stand.”
He said they’re still hoping everything will go their way, adding that they’re looking to elevate the matter directly to SMC owner Ramon Ang. “We’re waiting for somebody to bridge the bishop (San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza) to Mr. Ang,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said the diocese is urging the voters not to vote for the candidates who are pursuing the realization of the coal-fired power plant in San Carlos. “We’re calling, but it depends on them,” he said.
He said there’s a silent majority in the diocese who are opposing the entry of coal-fired power plant in the province and "we’re hoping it can be translated into votes,” he added. – Rappler.com