10,000 Filipinos Demand Government 'Break Free' from Coal

Anti-coal activists in the Phillippines unfurl a massive banner reading: 'Break Free From Fossil Fuels.' (Photo: Greenpeace)

10,000 Filipinos Demand Government 'Break Free' from Coal

'We are facing a planetary emergency. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are pro-people and pro-environment, not pro-coal and pro-climate change.'

An estimated 10,000 people converged in Batangas City, Philippines on Wednesday to demand that the government halt the poisoning of "our land, water, and air" and cancel plans to build as many as 27 coal-fired power plants across the island nation.

The march, which was planned as part of a massive global wave of opposition to fossil fuels, took place five days before the national elections, sending a message to the next administration that the Filipino people want a transition to renewable energy.

"We are facing a planetary emergency. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are pro-people and pro-environment, not pro-coal and pro-climate change," said organizer Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelle.

Demonstrators chanted and held signs that read "Piglas Batangas! Piglas Pilipinas!," highlighting a national campaign by that name, which roughly translates to "Free Bantangas!" Activists, local fishermen, and community members have been organizing against a proposed 600-megawatt coal plant planned to be built in Bantangas City by JG Summit Holdings, one of the nation's largest conglomerates.

"Piglas is a call for the incoming president and other new government officials to scrap the Pinamucan coal plant and the other 26 proposed coal plants currently in the pipeline. It is also a demand for the phase-out of the 19 existing coal plants nationwide," explained Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

"The next administration must review the current one's commitment to reduce 70 percent of our country's emissions by 2030. It must also demand climate finance from developed countries, as well as mobilize its own resources, so it can implement a swift and just transition to clean and renewable energy," added Ruel Cabile, national coordinator of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas.

The international wave of civil disobedience, dubbed Break Free 2016, kicked off Tuesday in Wales when hundreds of activists shut down the UK's largest open-cast coal mine. From May 3 through May 15, actions are set to take place across the world, including in Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S., and Brazil.

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