Anti-coal movement picks up steam
National network to fight energy 'Goliath'
Community groups from six Mindanao provinces announced today the establishment of Anti-COALition, a national network that aims to oppose the use of coal for energy. Anti-COALition, joined by Greenpeace, said it would go to the courts to challenge the country's continued development of coal power plants. "Taking legal action to end the coal regime in Mindanao is a clear message from communities that they are determined to stand up and defend their rights against the oppressive Goliath that is the coal industry," said Anna Abad of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. There are currently 10 coal plants in operation throughout the country, and the government is planning to add 12 more over the next four years. Abad said clean, renewable energy sources are abundant in Mindanao and the government should be making "green investments" in renewable energy technologies. Instead, Mindanao has become the "new frontier for dirty coal power projects" with a total output of 1,550 megawatts from coal in the provinces of Davao, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, General Santos, Saranggani, and Zamboanga, Greenpeace said in a statement. In Davao, the construction of coal-fired power plants is expected to displace thousands of families and will diminish the natural resources to supply water for drinking and other domestic needs to Davao’s 1.4 million inhabitants, Greenpeace said. In Saranggani, a coal plant is currently being constructed beside a marine sanctuary. "We have tried all possible means to stop the coal-fired power project from being pushed through but no one is listening," said Julad Suazo, a community leader from Davao. Communities have become "more aware of our basic rights to demand that the state protect its citizens from environmental harm and degradation," she said. "Now more than ever, we are more united and firm in our opposition to any energy development plan that prioritizes coal corporations, over the wellbeing of present and future generations of Filipinos."