To the San Miguel Corporation, how dare you claim as one of your values that you are “good neighbors”? The farmers and fisherfolk that are being displaced and harassed by your projects can all attest to this lie. How could you claim to be “advocates of sustainable development,” while planning to set up new coal-fired power plants in the middle of a climate emergency; and when environmental activists have been calling for a moratorium for years now?
Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines is calling out San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for its deplorable harassment and displacement of at least 3,000 residents in four barangays of Sariaya, Quezon to pave way for unsustainable industrial facilities, including a coal-fired power plant.
The livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk in the community has been put at severe risk by SMC’s development projects. Those members of the community who assert their right to stay in and defend their community have reported being “visited” – really, intimidated and threatened – by military personnel at the behest of SMC.
Even in the midst of an ongoing public health and climate emergency, San Miguel Corporation continues to prioritize profit over people’s welfare. Their projects all over the Philippines threaten to displace the defenders of our land and seas. In Quezon in particular, SMC is planning to set up an “industrial zone” for its businesses, including a coal-fired power plant and brewery and livestock facilities.
Our farmers and fisherfolk are constantly pushed aside and put at risk of losing their homes for the benefit of large corporations, under the guise of “development”. This same “development” is what puts not only people in the communities but the environment they live in under threat as well. Coal is a major source of global carbon dioxide emissions, and its continued use only serves to worsen the ongoing climate crisis. Despite this, large corporations like SMC continue to exploit it as a cheap resource and further consumers’ dependence on dirty energy, all to turn a profit.
As the worst effects of climate change begin to manifest around the world, we in the Philippines remain among those most vulnerable to disasters like increased flooding and drought. On top of holding developed, mega-industrial countries and multinational corporations accountable for their major role in greenhouse gas emissions, we should also strive locally to shift away from nonrenewables like coal towards more sustainable sources of energy. It has long been established that these dirty energy sources are not compatible with an ecologically-sustainable future, one where development is achieved without trampling on the people’s rights. Allowing SMC to continue with its intrusive plans sets a dangerous precedent, enabling them to keep investing in unsustainable energy sources. For there to be any truth to their being “good neighbors,” they must junk all current and future environmentally-destructive projects, and make reparations to all those displaced, harassed, or otherwise negatively affected by their relentless profiteering.
We challenge the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to fulfil its mandate of protecting the people’s environmental interests: take a stand against the San Miguel Corporation’s development aggression! Stop all projects that will worsen the state of our environment, in Quezon and beyond! We demand that San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine government stop the harassment of members of the community who simply want to defend their land, the environment, and their people’s welfare!
With the draconian Anti-Terrorism Law just days before taking full effect, large companies and state forces will undoubtedly continue to harass environmental defenders, as they have done countless times in the past, now under the guise of stopping “terror and rebellion”. As youth environmentalists, our call for climate justice must not be separate from the calls and needs of those most affected by the climate emergency. We must continue to seek justice for all victims of environmental destruction at the hands of both foreign multinational companies as well as large local capitalist businesses. We must continue to march to protect the rights of the all marginalized sectors of society and fight alongside them for an environmentally-sustainable future. Let us continue to fight against policies that seek only to curtail our fundamental democratic rights.
Take the fight to the streets.
Magkaisa sa SONA| July 27
No more coal, no more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!
For financial help:
BPI Neil Igan Roxas 0869421507
GCash Jaycel, 09060369930
More info on Facebook.com/Anakbayan.qzn
Photos from Asia Power, Quezon Reels, and San Miguel Corporation Website
Statement by: Maded, Smrz, Mitzi