A COAL-FREE Negros Occidental will push through if it will be decided through a referendum and a plebiscite.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. stressed that when asked if there is a need for other sectors, aside from the church, to rally the push for banning the entry of coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental.
Marañon, in an interview at the sidelines of the 13th Organic Island Farmers Festival opening rites at the Capitol grounds in Bacolod City on Wednesday, November 28, said most Negrenses want a coal-free province.
“We have been advocating for this for a long time already,” he said, adding that it is good that the local church is also vocal on their opposition against coal.
The four bishops in Negros have issued a collegial pastoral statement strongly opposing coal in the province on November 22.
In the statement, the four church leaders called on the people to stand firm together in Negros -- with each other and with civic leaders -- to oppose any coal-fired power plants and phase out those still in operation.
They urged Negrenses to collectively affirm the message of Pope Francis: “Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments, and increased levels of poverty.”
For his part, the governor recalled that he already issued a proposed ordinance disallowing the exploration, establishment, and operation of any coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental.
Based on the draft ordinance, the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental follows the noble and brave examples of its government counterparts like Negros Oriental, Bohol, Guimaras, Cebu City, Ozamis Oriental, and South Cotabato.
“This decision has been reached after careful consideration of the public appeal for the Provincial Government to denounce any action that will endanger its rich natural resources thereby compromising the dignity, safety, health, and socio-economic well-being of the Negrenses, which is a primordial duty of the government,” the draft added.
The Provincial Board (PB) committees on energy and environment conducted a joint committee meeting on the proposed ordinance on November 21.
Third District Board Member Manuel Frederick Ko, chairman of PB committee on energy, said they cannot yet make a concrete stand on whether to allow or not the coal generation in the province.
There is a need to consult first the various agencies and groups, as well as resource persons, in order to have a holistic approach to the issue, Ko added.
Marañon pointed out that the proposed ordinance there is a need to really push for a coal-free province as the effects of climate change are very evident now.
“Our environment is already devastated resulting in many calamities like earthquake, typhoon, fire, among others frequently happening anywhere,” he added. (EPN)