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Negros bishops join calls opposing coal-fired power plants

Four Catholic bishops have joined environment and lay civic organizations' call against coal-fired power plants on Negros Island.

Driven by the appeal of Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si" calling on all of humanity to care for planet earth—our common home—the bishops in the dioceses in Negros have issued a joint pastoral statement strongly opposing coal-fired thermal plants. 

Negros bishops Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, Patricio Buzon of the Diocese of Bacolod, Louie Galbines of the Diocese of Kabankalan, and Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete issued the collegial declaration on Thrusday in preparation for the solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday, November 25.

They called on the people of Negros to oppose any new coal-fired power plants, and push for the phase-out of those still in operation.

Also, they urged Negrenses to collectively affirm Pope Francis' call for the use of clean and renewable energy.

The  bishops cited the pope's call in the encyclical for ecological conversion, and for humanity to reduce consumption of coal and other fossil fuels that are major contributors to climate change, and to embrace an energy future that is clean, renewable, and equitable for the health and well-being of the planet and for future generations.

“Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments, and increased levels of poverty,” says Pope Francis in Laudato Si.

The Diocese of San Carlos, in particular, has been stepping up initiatives to gather support from other sectors through one, conducting dialogues and forums that underscore the need to protect and conserve the rich environment of Negros Island.

Bishop Alminaza earlier expressed his opposition to the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired plant in San Carlos by the SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.

Meanwhile, San Carlos Mayor Gerardo Valmayor Jr. belied rumors that the city government has approved San Miguel Corporation's project, saying there is no request yet for support from the firm.

Last Wednesday, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committees on energy and environment conducted a joint meeting on the proposed ordinance disallowing the exploration, establishment and operation of any coal-fired power plant in the province.

With this, the bishops said that the move to declare Negros Occidental a coal-free province remains a proposal, unlike Negros Oriental which already adopted Executive Order No. 9, preventing the entry of coal-fired power plants.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon has remained firm on his stand against the entry of coal-fired power plants. But Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is open to having mix sources of energy.

The four dioceses, for this matter, are appealing to local government units (LGUs) and electric cooperatives all over Negros not to entertain anymore any proposition of a coal-fired power plant elsewhere on Negros. —LBG, GMA News