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Catholic bishop asks big banks: Stop funding coal-fired power plants

Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Wednesday—observed worldwide as Earth Day—called on the country's big banks to stop funding coal-fired thermal plants in the Philippines.

In his message on Earth Day, Pabillo said that while governments, civil society, members of the private sector, and other stakeholders play a part in ending the reign of this dirty, destructive, and non-renewable energy source, banks and other financial institutions are in "most unique position" to drastically create meaningful change" in the coal energy regime.

In the past, he said, two of the biggest banks in the country "chose to use their financial power to sustain the lifeline of the coal industry instead of cutting it off."

He said, "From 2017 to the third quarter of 2019, thirteen Philippine banks provided over P319 million worth of financial services to coal developers. The Philippines’ two largest local banks, have made the biggest contribution.

Taking off from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Pastoral Letter on Ecology, Pabillo pointed out in his message that "the environment is groaning in pain" due to our destructive economic activities.

Likewise, he said, "The cause of the coronavirus pandemic has been linked by many experts to the disturbance of wildlife, as well as different forms of environmental exploitation -- all of which point to the failure to protect our Common Home as lovingly as it was created."

While Filipinos are in a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are breathing relatively fresher air due to the significant halt of the engines economic activities, Pabillo asked the faithful to pray for the poor and vulnerable communities living near and around coal-fired power plants.

Coal’s poison continues to burden these families, even as decades of exposure have already severely damaged their health and have now rendered them as among those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

"There is much talk today of what must be done not only to immediately respond to the problems that the coronavirus has brought upon us, but we must also ensure that decisions made today will help us move towards a future that is better for all. —LBG, GMA News