ECO-ENERGY FORUM. Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos speaks before the participants of the People’s Eco-Energy Forum held at the Bishop’s Home in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)

SAN CARLOS CITY -- The bishops of the four Roman Catholic dioceses in Negros Island will issue a collegial statement expressing their opposition to the establishment of coal-fired power plants.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos announced this in a media interview during the People’s Eco-Energy Forum held at the Bishop’s Home in this northern Negros city on Tuesday afternoon.

“In principle, the four of us bishops in Negros are behind this push for a coal-free island,” Alminaza said, adding that they will release the collegial statement before the celebration of Christ the King this coming Sunday, November 25.

The three other bishops in Negros Island are Patricio Buzon of the Diocese of Bacolod, Louie Galbines of the Diocese of Kabankalan, and Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete.

“We are still refining (the statement) considering some recent developments,” said Alminaza, who first expressed his opposition to the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired plant in this city in a position letter issued by the Diocese of San Carlos last month.

The bishop stated that coal causes pollution and harms human health as he pushed for the development of renewable energy sources.

Moreover, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines also expressed support and encouraged all other dioceses to back up the said collegial statement.

The forum, held in collaboration with NASSA, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and Center for Environment and Energy Development, was participated in by Parish Pastoral Council officers, parish formation teams, local government officials, students and youth leaders, among others.

It was one of the initiatives of the Diocese of San Carlos in showing its strong opposition against coal and other “dirty” forms of energy.

Alminaza said they will continue to hold dialogues and fora also in other dioceses to reach more people.

“Through this, people who have something to say in the issue will be given the chance to speak up. Their ideas could help us to be guided accordingly,” he added.

For his part, Mayor Gerardo Valmayor Jr., who attended the forum, said the city government has no official stand yet on the issue as it is still weighing the impacts of the proposed coal-fired power plant of San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corporation. (PNA)