Lucena City, Quezon, April 12, 2016Religious leaders in the Southern Tagalog region, social movements, and civil society groups come together in Lucena to add their voice to the global call to ‘Break Free’ from coal and other dirty and harmful energy. It is part of “Break Free from Fossil Fuels 2016”, a global climate movement effort against key fossil fuel projects across the world.

Piglas Pilipinas is calling for a moratorium on all coal-fired power plants in the entire country.  Today’s launch in Lucena is part of build-up activities leading to a 10,000-strong mobilization on May 4 in the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex to stop the building of a 600-megawatt coal plant in Batangas City, which comes just days before the May 9 national elections. . Mass actions are scheduled until May 15 in other countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, Germany, and Australia.

“As this country prepares for a general election, let this question be raised and reflected: does not our country deserve a government that will do everything to protect Filipino families from the ravages of dirty energy and climate change? It is immoral to/ burden future generations -with pollution and the cost of mistaken energy choices made today,” said Lipa’s Roman Catholic archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

“It is time to break free from fossil fuels and hold the big polluters and the government to account to ensure a safer future for Filipinos. This is our challenge to the next President, to heed the call of the people and make the Philippines coal-free,” said Anna Abad, Climate Justice campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Quezon Province has been dubbed as the coal capital of Luzon as it is already host to two coal-fired power plants. The existing 735-MW plant in Pagbilao town facing Tayabas Bay is now being extended with an additional 420-MW plant, while in Mauban town, also along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, is host to a 1,500-MW plant. There is also Meralco PowerGen’s 1200-megawatt Atimonan power station which is already under construction despite the widespread community resistance against the project.

“Our advocacy for renewable energy and our anti-coal stance is deeply rooted in our yearning for the renewal and transformation of lives and communities,” said Father Raul Enriquez of Pagbilao Quezon

“The Philippines have committed a 70% emission reduction in the international negotiations, yet contradicted its pledge making way for our own destruction. We stand firm on our demand; shift to renewable energy, the time to act is now. We strongly support the call to break free from coal,” said Louise Alcalde, advocacy officer of Aksyon Klima.

“From mining to combustion coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels. The world doesn’t need more coal, it needs an energy revolution. That is why we need build  power among grassroots groups who are at the frontlines of resistance against coal, and mobilize to shift the political power away from the coal industry,” added Aaron Pedrosa, who heads the energy working group of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

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 to clean and 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.