Pope encyclical a ‘bible’ to coal-threatened Batangas–priests
SAN PEDRO CITY—Leaders of the Catholic Church, which has declared war on the continued use of coal as a source of electricity, celebrated Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, saying it struck close to home in the case of Batangas province which could host another coal-fired power plant if protesters failed to block it.
“It’s quite apt,” said Fr. Dakila Ramos on Francis’ encyclical on climate change that pinned the blame for global warming on mankind and the greed for profit.
“It will be our bible for the environment,” said Ramos, who heads the Ministry on the Environment of the Archdiocese of Lipa City.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles called on the faithful “to pray and reflect on the encyclical as the Church in Batangas declared July 13 a thanksgiving day.”
In a Facebook post, Arguelles announced the planned gathering next month of environmental groups in Batangas City as a “thanksgiving to God for the encyclical of the Holy Father on the environment.”
Ramos, speaking on behalf of Arguelles, said the protest action would be a “prayer-walk” but bigger than previous ones, including that in February attended by at least 3,000 people.
Church leaders in Batangas have been active against projects they deemed destructive to the environment, the most recent of which is the proposed 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant by JG Summit Holdings Inc. in Batangas City.
The company had applied for a location permit, a prerequisite for the plant’s operation but it has remained pending in the Batangas City council.
In May, the council began hearing the arguments of the company and those of opponents of the project. It was expected to decide on the issue by the end of this month or July.
Ramos said the Church in Batangas planned to raise awareness on the contents of the encyclical and produce flyers and tarpaulins to convince the city council to reject the project.
Earlier this month, the Church joined the “One Million Against Coal Campaign” to promote resistance to coal mines and the construction of coal-fired power plants in the country by gathering at least 1 million signatures.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines’ National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) executive secretary, said it was necessary for the Church to be at the forefront of the fight against coal because the government “is adamant about pursuing the extension of these destructive operations.”
Caritas Philippines’ Nassa is the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country.
On June 6, Church leaders also led some 1,500 protesters in Lucena City in a procession in Atimonan, Quezon province, to protest the proposed 1,200-MW coal-fired power plant in the town.
Church leaders have campaigned against coal-fired power plants in the past, warning of health and environmental risks they may bring.
In November 2007, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, then president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said it was “better to act on the prevention (of sickness and environmental problems resulting from coal plants) rather than on the cure,” at the sidelines of a forum on coal plants sponsored by the Archdiocese of Jaro.
Environmental groups and the Catholic Church were opposing a plan to put up a 100-MW coal plant in Barangay Ingore in La Paz District, Iloilo City. With Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research
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