Church leaders have called on the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) to discontinue its support for fossil fuel financing as the bank celebrates its 172nd anniversary on August 1.
In a joint statement, Catholic church leaders, including Bishop Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, president of Caritas Philippines; Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, convenor of WagGas; Fr. Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines; and Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, urged BPI to “lead as an example”.
“We urge BPI to embody its celebration of the bountiful blessings of our Creator and the fruits of labor and love of its workers and stakeholders on its anniversary by ending all forms of its financing for coal, gas, and all fossil fuels,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
The church leaders acknowledged BPI’s prior commitment to refrain from financing new coal power plants and phasing out coal from its loan portfolio by 2032. However, they stressed the need for more significant and urgent action.
“BPI’s role as the biggest historical contribution to the massive expansion of coal, the dirtiest fossil, in the Philippines and the intensifying destruction of our Common Home requires that it do more, and with much more urgency,” the statement read.
The church leaders also criticized BPI’s silence regarding atoning for its support of coal-fired power plants and its plans to cease other forms of direct or indirect financing for coal.
Referring to a Pastoral Statement issued in January 2022 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the church leaders reaffirmed their commitment to divest from coal and other harmful industries.
They called on all financial institutions, including BPI, to assess the social and environmental implications of their financing activities and advocate for policies that phase out support for harmful energy sources to align with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.