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Philippine schools join coal-fired power plant protest

Catholic educational association calls on government to look at clean and renewable sources of energy

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

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Philippine schools join coal-fired power plant protest

Members of a church-based environment group hold a demonstration to voice their concern over a plan to build a coal-fired power plant in the province of Negros Occidental in the central Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Laudato si - Philippines)

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Catholic schools in the Philippines have joined growing opposition to government plans to build a coal-fired power plant in San Carlos, a city in the central part of the country.

In a statement, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), which has 92-member schools on Negros Island, said the plan is "dispensable and unnecessary."

The organization said the building of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental province would only harm the environment.

The group said the government should instead resort to clean and renewable sources of energy.

They also urged officials "to open channels of dialogue” with their constituents before allowing companies to build and eventually operate a coal-fired power plant.

Catholic bishops in the region earlier appealed to local authorities to reject the plant, saying it would pose a threat to the environment and to people's health.

Last week, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos called on Governor Bong Lacson of Negros Occidental to junk the proposal.

"We are willing to work with him on many other issues for the sake of the common good but we are clear that as far as allowing coal ... we will never compromise," said the prelate.

The governor has already put discussions for the proposed coal-fired power plant on hold following the Catholic schools' statement.

"We hope that this is the first step for him to acknowledging that there is no room for coal in San Carlos and no room for it in Negros," said Bishop Alminaza.

The prelate also appealed to investors to put their money into projects that would "unite and not divide the people of the province."

Negros Occidental province has been labeled the "Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines."

The Department of Energy noted that with Negros’ renewable energy sources, it is poised to become an entirely "green" region by 2030.

There are nine solar power plants, eight biomass plants, and 10 hydropower plants in the Negros region with a combined capacity of 579.43 MW.

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