Coal power plant project faces Church opposition

MANILA, Philippines—A plan by the country’s biggest power distributor to put another coal-fired power plant in Quezon province hits another roadblock. 

The Catholic Church’s social action arm on Friday, June 5, said they are against the planned 1,200 megawatt power plant extension project in Atimonan town. 

The National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) joins the Diocese of Lucena, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), and other groups that have voiced opposition to the plan in recent months. 

In a statement, the church agency said while the government should address the looming power crisis, it should not be at the expense of the health of the people and the environment. 

Coal-fired power plants are said to be the most polluting form of energy generation. 

Sa madaling sabi, isang malaking delubyo sa ating kalikasan ang iniimbita nating muling maganap kapalit ng ‘development’na inaasam ng ating gobyerno,” Nassa said. 

Hindi dapat masilaw ang ating gobyerno sa milyun-milyong kikitain mula sa tax revenue na ibibigay ng mga plantang ito kung ang kapalit ay tiyak na kamatayan…,” it said. 

(In other words, we’re inviting a deluge to destroy our environment again just so we will have this “development” that our government wants to achieve. 

The government should not be dazzled by the millions of tax revenues from these plants, if it would cost lives.)

The Manila Electric Company’s $2 billion Atimonan project will be the third coal plant in Quezon along with the Mauban Coal Plant and the Pagbilao Coal Plant. 

Data from the PMCJ showed that there are 26 new coal plant projects that will operate in the country by year 2010.

In a press conference on Friday, Nassa executive secretary Father Edwin Gariguez warned that the projects would open another door for the Philippines to become a major contributor of greenhouse gasses. 

He said the Church should be more aggressive in campaigning against coal power plant because the government is adamant to pursue the extension of “these destructive operations” by asking for emergency powers. 

“In the guise of providing more efficient energy source, higher tax revenues and the so-called greater development, the state and the multi-national coal companies are opening another door for Philippines to becoming the major contributor to climate change,” Gariguez stressed. 

He added the government should not also disregard the health and lives of the people that will be sacrificed by these coal power plants. 

“The catastrophe we experienced from Typhoon Yolanda, which killed thousands and damaged billions of properties, is proof to this [sic],” he said. 

Nassa also supported the “One Million Against Coal Campaign” which aimed to gather at least 1 million signatures against the construction of more coal power plants and coal mines across the country.

The petition likewise hopes to persuade the government to heed to its commitment of combating and mitigating climate change and preventing calamities. – Rappler.com