Protesters demand pivot away from coal plants
CEBU CITY—More than a hundred protesters took to the city streets to press for a shift in the energy policy of the Duterte administration from one that the protesters said is heavily tilted in favor of coal-generated electricity to one that would lean more on renewable sources of power.
The protesters, mostly supporters of the group Philippine Movement for Climate Justice-Cebu (PMCJ), called on President Duterte to drop its policy of continuing to use coal as a main source of fuel to generate power.
Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa Jr., head of the energy working group of PMCJ and secretary general of the militant group Sanlakas, said the use of coal as an energy source must be stopped because of its dire effects on the environment and its effects on people’s health.
“We are against using coal as a source to supply our electricity and the building of coal plants not only in Cebu but also in the country,” said Pedrosa in Cebuano.
Pedrosa, in a speech during the protest rally, cited the country’s renewable energy sources as a good alternative to coal that could meet rising demand for energy without harming the environment.
Despite the continued construction of coal power plants, he said millions of Filipinos are still without electricity.
Groups in protest
Among the groups that took part in the anticoal protest are Sugbuanong Nagpakabana sa Kalikupan (SNK) and Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc.
Residents of several villages—Suba, Pasil, Duljo-Fatima, San Roque, Tinago, Careta and Sambag III—also joined the rally.
On Oct. 11, a protest was also held on Mendiola Bridge in Manila demanding a stop to the construction of more coal plants.
PMCJ, which also led the Mendiola rally, said 20 coal-fired power plants are currently under construction and 19 more had been approved by the government.
“A lot of countries are already phasing out coal. How come coal is now booming here in the Philippines?” said Glenn Ymata, energy campaigner of PMCJ.
Ymata said the rest of the country should follow the example set by the local governments of Ilocos Norte and Batangas provinces, where officials had declared a no-coal policy and support for renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydro and geothermal.
“There’s too much coal already in Batangas,” Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas had been quoted as saying in a TV interview.
Alternatives to coal
Batangas has viable alternatives to coal. It has several power plants that run on natural gas, considered as the cleanest form of fossil fuel. These plants have a combined generating capacity of 2,792 megawatts.
The provincial government of Ilocos Norte had also expressed commitment to ban the further use of coal as a power source.
Ilocos Norte is home to some of the country’s biggest power plants that rely on renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind.
One of these is a wind power facility, owned by the firm Energy Development Corp., that is capable of producing 150 megawatts of electricity.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.