A green ally: Pro-environment energy group hopeful to end coal financing in PH with help of new Manila archbishop

Published March 26, 2021, 9:16 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

A church and civil-society-backed organization expressed support for Cardinal Jose Fuerte Advincula, the newly designated archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, as it seeks the latter’s support to end the practice of financing coal development projects in the country.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, convenor of the Withdraw from Coal (WFC), said Friday, March 26, that they were “thrilled” about Cardinal Advincula’s recent appointment.

“[W]e wish him blessed beginnings. As one who is known to be a leader that listens to his flock, we look forward to how he would embrace the poor and vulnerable especially as this time of unprecedented crisis lingers,” Alminaza said.

Advincula was appointed by Pope Francis on Thursday, March 25, to take the place vacated by Cardinal Luis Tagle in 2019 in overseeing the community of the faithful in the Philippines’ capital.

The anti-coal group added that it hopes for the new Archbishop’s solidarity in their fight to end coal financing in the country.

“We, at WFC, also hope that Archbishop Advincula will be with us in listening to the cry of the Earth and demanding accountability from those who fuel its degradation,” said Alminaza, who succeeded Cardinal Advincula as Bishop of San Carlos in 2013.

The WFC is a network of civil society and faith-based groups and Church leaders that has been actively engaging domestic banks towards ending their financial support to coal developers and projects in the country.

“In our effort to advance coal divestment among local banks, we found that the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has been channeling the biggest amount of financing to the coal industry in the past decade,” Alminaza bared.

According to Alminaza, the Archdiocese of Manila owns 72.6 percent of the bank’s total shares and is listed as its fifth biggest stockholder.

“[With the Archdiocese of Manila] being a top shareholder of BPI, we eagerly await the ways we can work together with Archbishop Advincula in urging BPI to have public policies and positions to restrict its coal activities,” he added.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the current Apostolic Administrator of the Manila Archdiocese, is also a staunch advocate against the use of coal.