“She risked her life, and her crusade should not be wasted. Instead, it should be continued and pursued.”
This was according to Gerry Arances, convenor of the Center of Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), during EndCoal.Org’s “Ending the Age of Coal” Media Launching and Forum held in Diliman, Quezon City Thursday, July 14.
He was referring to Gloria Capitan, 57, an advocate against coal who was shot dead inside her videoke bar. The gathering, which was organized by the International Coal Network and its ally organizations in the Philippines, came two weeks after Capitan was gunned down by two unidentified men riding a motorcycle.
“Last Friday, July 1, ate Glo was brutally murdered in Mariveles, Bataan where she led her community to stand against coal operations in their area,” Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), recalled.
Aside from remembering Capitan, the event was held by the leaders of the movement against coal and for renewable energy to “showcase the latest developments in the battle for a cleaner, more sustainable, people-centered energy system in the Philippines.”
The Philippines continues to embark on the use of coal as energy source, even if it is a fact that the country is vulnerable to climate change brought by global warming, which is fueled by greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere – and one of its major contributors is fossil fuel burning, primarily, coal.
With the strong pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez against coal as source of energy, Rivera said that the anti-coal movement in the country “has never been stronger than it is now.”
“With the Climate Change Commission (CMC) subjecting proposed coal projects under review for six months, we can say that the movement is only getting stronger,” he asserted.
Likewise, Arances said that it was good to hear that there is now a “national debate” on the issue on climate change, which he said involves the CMC, DENR, Department of Energy (DOE) – and even the President as well.
Moreover, he highlighted the growing international movement opposing the proliferation of coal projects across the globe, saying a number of environmentalist groups worldwide have already showed their solidarity.
“The action today globally and in the Philippines is of at most importance.”
“At ‘yung mindset natin ay importante ngayon para sa susunod na mga henerasyon. Dahil ‘pag hindi natin binago ‘yung (And our mindset is important today for the next generations. Because if we don’t change our) mindset, programs and policies right now, there is a chance na lalagpas tayo doon sa dapat, kumbaga (that we will exceed the mark, that) the Philippines is still ‘livable’ by the end of the century,” Arrances noted.
Meanwhile, Kristine Balmes, member of the Archdiocesan Movement for the Environment (AMEn), noted that the “strong” anti-coal stance of Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles was instrumental in the “thousands-strong” mobilizations in Batangas City these past months.
Thus, Arances believed that there is still “hope” because there was already a “prospect for change” in the country which he said was started by the late Capitan.
The event was organized in partnership with: University of the Philippines (UP) Aggregates, Incorporated (Inc.); UP Engineering Student Council (UP ESC); UP Green League (UPGL), Inc.; UP Materials Science Society (UP MSS); UP Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Association (UP 49ers); and UP Progressive, Responsive and Innovative Movement in Engineering (UP PRIME).
Also present in the launching and forum were other anti-coal advocates: 350.Org, Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA), Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), and Greenpeace Philippines.
This story was first published on Rappler X.