Break Free launches Piglas Pilipinas in the PH

Manila, Philippines — Groups came together on April 6 to launch Piglas Batangas! Piglas Pilipinas!, a national campaign against coal and other forms of dirty energy.

Piglas Pilipinas is part of the global Break Free campaign happening this May 2016. Break Free from fossil fuels is a global wave of mass actions that will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects and accelerate the just transition to 100% renewable energy.

“Most politicians avoid this issue (of coal). We want this to be an issue to be discussed this coming elections,” said Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, one of the leaders of the anti-coal campaign in Batangas. A new coal power plant is set to be built by the JG Summit Holdings, Inc., owned by the Gokongwei’s. Once built, the new coal plant will endanger the Verde Island Passage, which is the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world.

There will be a 10,000 strong mobilization set to happen on May 4 as part of the protests against the building of the new coal power plant in Batangas.

However, the groups also emphasized that the campaign, although focused in Batangas, includes all cities and provinces where new coal power plants will be built. The Philippines is heavily investing in coal, despite its commitments in the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris that happened last December. In fact, there are 19 existing coal plant projects (31 boilers), 27 new coal plants in the pipeline, and 118 coal mining permits.

“The Department of Energy insists on coal, despite the country’s 200,000 MW untapped renewable energy resources,” said Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas.

Secretary Zenaida Monsada last week said that there is still a need to invest in coal given the country’s need for power, especially because of the growing economy.

“Even if all coal-fired power plants were closed, there would be no significant impact on the climate change situation in the country,” she said.

Many politicians in the country, including presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, has cited the Philippines’ low carbon emission contribution to justifying coal projects. Duterte is the Mayor of Davao City where a new coal plant owned by Aboitiz was inaugurated earlier this year.

However, environmental groups have staunchly campaigned against coal.

“It is immoral to burden future generations with pollution and the cost of mistaken energy choices made today. It is time to end the age coal,” Archbishop Arguelles added.

The leaders of the Piglas campaign spoke of six demands of the national campaign, namely:

  1. Cancel all plans, permits, and construction stage for coal-fired power plants in Batangas and the rest of the country
  2. Implement a program for a swift phase out of the 19 existing coal-fired power plants nationwide;
  3. Close down all coal mines beginning with Semirara and cancel all plans and permits for new coal mines;
  4. Mobilize domestic and international climate finance and implement a comprehensive program for a quick transition ti renewable energy;
  5. Ensure a just transition to clean and renewable energy; and
  6. Implement a community-managed rehabilitation program for all local communities and ecosystems affected by coal plants and coal mines.

Piglas is a Filipino word that means the act of breaking free. It is also an acronym for the Filipino phrase pinag-isang lakas (one force).