Groups urge DENR anew to junk coal use, shift to RE  

Anti-coal activists slammed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for allegedly allowing a business-as-usual attitude in allowing proponents of coal projects to continue operating in the country.

On Thursday representatives of coal-affected communities, electric consumers, environmental and climate justice activists stormed DENR offices in various parts of the country to urge Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and other local officials to stop “coal obsession” and heed the demand of 89 percent of Filipinos who reject dirty coal as an energy source.

The groups cited a recently released Pulse Asia survey that says almost 9 out of 10 Filipinos prefer a shift to shift to renewable energy (RE) sources.

Currently, the Philippines houses 28 operational coal plants and 28 more coal projects are in the pipeline.

The DENR is expected to play a major role in the issuance of environmental compliance certificate  especially those projects waiting for approval for construction.

Participants of a national day of action against coal said that the DENR’s current position on the issue does not only worsen the current state of the Philippine environment but also enables a rise in electricity prices all over the country.

Mercy Donor of Piglas Kababaihan also chided the Department of Energy for promoting coal use,  which, she said, adds burden to the poor. Worse, she said, the DENR allows this to happen by issuing permits for more coal plants to be constructed.

“The negative impacts of coal are being felt by every consumer and much more by the communities living in the coal sites,” said Teody Navea of Cebu City.

“The resistance against coal is growing in many parts of the country. Aside from killing us with every breath we take, these coal plants are stealing money from our pockets…[from] our electricity bills,” added Navea.

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Jonathan L. Mayuga is a journalist for more than 15 years. He is a product of the University of the East – Manila. An awardee of the J. G. Burgos Biotech Journalism Awards, BrightLeaf Agricultural Journalism Awards, Binhi Agricultural Journalism Awards, and Sarihay Environmental Journalism Awards.