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Church urges government to scrap coal plant project

MANILA (Agencies) : More than 1,000 people took to the streets in Atimonan town, the capital of Quezon province, on September 14, for the second Church-led protest this year demanding the withdrawal of provincial government support for the establishment of coal-fired power plants in the province.

Protesters, led by Church people, urged the provincial board to stop the 1,200 megawatt power plant expansion project in Atimonan and the two existing coal plants in Mauban and Pagbilao.

A protest against the same issue was already held in June this year.

CBCP News reported that some protesters were seen praying the rosary and reciting ecumenical prayers for the care of the environment, while others wore masks in protest against pollution caused by coal-fired power plants.

Chanting “No to Coal, Yes to God,” the protesters requested a meeting with the board members who reportedly adjourned their meeting to evade the crowd.

Emotions ran high when the board members tried to avoid protesters by leaving through the back door. However, they failed, as throngs of people blocked the driveway.

The board was then forced to dialogue with the protesters and receive a petition to pass onto the provincial board.

The rally then marched from the provincial government office to the Sacred Heart College where a Mass was held in thanksgiving for Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical on the environment, Praise Be: Care for our common  home (Laudato Si).

Father Raul Enriquez, one of the convenors of the Quezon Laban sa Coal, said it is everyone’s duty as responsible stewards to defend God’s creation.

“To stay neutral, not to take a stand, in the face of destruction of our natural resources is not a Christian option,” he told CBCP News.

“That is why our participants were asked to wear white shirts with black ribbons: it means you are either for or against coal plants, there’s no middle ground,” Father Enriquez added.