“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

Negros Catholic schools join opposition vs coal plants

Young people of Negros Island sustained their silent protest which began in January until many students from Catholic schools joined them. This led to an executive order banning coal-fired power plants signed by former Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon, which was handed to Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos City on March 6, 2019 in front of hundreds of student protesters. LAUDATO SI PHILIPPINES

MANILA, June 28, 2019–Catholics schools in Negros island have objected to plans for a new coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City.

SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. wants to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the site.

But the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines – Negros Island opposes the scheme which they claim will harm the environment.

Citing data from the National Grid Corp., they argued that Negros Occidental has more than enough power supply.

“The proposal to build a coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City is dispensable and unnecessary,” said the association’s 92-member schools.

In joint pastoral statement issued in November 2018, the four bishops of Negros Island appealed to local officials to reject the proposal.

According to them, the coal-fired power plant poses threat not just to the environment, but also to the health of the people and sustainable development.

The Catholic schools urges the region’s lawmakers and local officials to instead resort to clean and renewable sources of energy.

They also urged officials “to open their channels of dialogue with their constituents before they allow companies to build and eventually operate a coal-fired power plant.”

The Living Laudato Si Philippines, a Catholic lay-led initiative calling on local financial institutions to divest from environmentally harmful activities to alleviate the rising climate crisis, lauded the Catholics schools in their stand against coal plants.

Rodne Galicha, the movement’s lead convenor, urged Negros Occidental’s new governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to assure the economic and environmental well-being of the province.

“He has the moral responsibility to also respond to the country’s efforts to slow down global warming and stop climate change from becoming worse,” said Galicha, who is also the executive director of Climate Action for Sustainability Initiative (KASALI).

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos also called on Lacson “to give a clear witness to his Christian faith and holiness even in politics”.

“That this is still possible in our time and age and ever more necessary and urgent!,” Alminaza said.

“We are willing to work with him in many other concerns and issues we mutually share for the sake of the common good but we are clear that as far as allowing coal in Negros, specifically in San Carlos City, we stand by Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si. This we will never compromise,” he assured. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews)

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