Catholic parish in Quezon holds prayer rally against coal

October 17, 2021

A Catholic community in the Diocese of Lucena has renewed its call against coal projects in Quezon province during a prayer rally on October 16. 

Church workers, pro-environment activists, young people, and fisherfolk gather in front of the Our Lady of Angels Parish to express opposition against the 1200 MW coal-fired power plant project run by the Atimonan One Energy.

“Coal has been poisoning Quezon for years. We’ve seen the effect it had on other towns like Pagbilao and Mauban, and can say for certain that we want no more of it for our people,” said Father Warren Puno, parish priest and Director of the Diocesan Ecology Ministry. 

The activity coincided with the 6th anniversary of the issuance of the project’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the country’s environment department.

The coal project is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). 

Father Puno said the proponent of the project must “stop pretending” not to hear the demand of the affected communities to scrap the coal project.

Lawyer Avril De Torres of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development said six years have passed since an ECC was issued “and it is more than reasonable to assume that much has already changed in the baseline characteristics considered to evaluate the project’s potential impacts and mitigation measures.” 

Last year, environmental groups urged the government to declare the project’s 5-year-old ECC invalid. In 2019, the groups filed a complaint against the proponent for the “failure to meet environmental and community education requirements.”

The strong opposition of the community against coal projects has forced some energy companies to cancel coal projects in the province.

We hope Meralco could take the past six years as a lesson and abandon its coal plans,” said Jay Lim of Tanggol Kalikasan.

Fisherman Ramon Grimaldo said residents in affected communities “will not stop” opposing the project until the proponent withdraws. 

The province is home to 2.2 GW of operating coal power plants and, until recently, had a coal pipeline that could spike its installed coal capacity to over 5 GW.

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