Monday, November 29, 2021

Consumer, labor groups protest coal project funding

NEGROS. Members of Konsyumer-Negros and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-Negros hold a silent protest against coal project funding in front of the Bacolod Main Branch of the Bank of Philippine Islands along Araneta Street Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Erwin P. Nicavera photo)

MEMBERS of Konsyumer-Negros and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)-Negros have staged a silent protest in front of the Bacolod Main Branch of the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) along Araneta Street Wednesday, April 21, 2021, to denounce what they call as coal financing of the bank.

Grid Langco, coordinator of Konsyumer-Negros, said they are calling on BPI to stop funding coal-fired power plant projects in the country.

Citing a research conducted by anti-coal campaign network Withdraw from Coal, Langco said BPI has the highest exposure to coal among Philippine banks.

“We know that coal is harmful to the communities, it worsens climate change and is one of the reasons for a higher power cost,” he said, adding that “coal is a dirty and expensive source of energy.”

During the demonstration, some 10 member-protesters cut their BPI ATM cards to symbolize their discontent in the bank’s policy on funding coal projects.

The groups asserted that BPI, like what international banks have done, should instead fund renewable energy (RE) projects.

Langco said the bank’s executives must know by now that Negrenses reject coal and that it should transition to RE for a cleaner energy and cheaper cost of power for consumers.

The silent protest was simultaneously conducted nationwide a day before Earth Day 2021.

Langco said this year’s Earth Day also coincides with BPI’s Annual Stockholders Meeting so they hope that the concern raised reaches the company.

“BPI, while trying to maintain a clean image, continuously supports coal by funding coal projects in the Philippines,” he said, adding that “they must know that Negrenses do not support this financing and will make them feel our rejection of such moves if they will not divest from coal.”

Konsyumer-Negros said for Negros Occidental alone, there is no coal project yet funded by BPI.

Its coordinator said Konsyumer-Negros and BMP-Negros along with San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, who is one of the convenors of Withdraw from Coal, opposed the proposed 300-megawatt coal plant in San Carlos City by San Miguel Corp.

Langco said civil society groups, sectoral organizations, catholic church and even provincial government officials had united in calling Negros the renewable energy capital of the Philippines.

“We will not taint our clean energy dream, not with a single coal plant and definitely not with banks with dirty, coal-contaminated money,” he said.

BPI has yet to issue a statement on the matter.


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