Health Care Without Harm Asia (HCWH Asia) expresses its support to the residents of Bataan who are calling for the immediate suspension of coal operations in Limay, condemning the growing threat of dirty energy on Filipinos’ health.
The group stresses its call to phase out coal in the country after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently called the attention of two power plants due to residents’ complaints of respiratory and skin problems caused by coal ash emission last December that allegedly leaked from Petron and San Miguel Corporation power plants.
Health effects of coal
“Health Care Without Harm supports the people of Limay in seeking the closure of these coal plants and strongly condemns the injustices brought about by the operations of Petron and San Miguel Corporation,” expressed HCWH Asia Director Ramon San Pascual.
“Coal combustion produces toxic chemicals that cause air pollution which can result to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, abnormal neurological development in children, poor growth of the fetus before birth, and cancer. Children, elderly, and pregnant women, are usually the most vulnerable and the ones who suffer the most from air pollution from coal.”
“Whatever economic benefit coal plants bring to communities will never compensate for the degradation of their quality of life, as experienced by the people of Limay, and most likely all other communities hosting coal plants in the country. We call on concerned government agencies to also conduct health audits to address the deleterious effects of coal on our people.”
Healthy energy versus dirty energy
“Last year, a Greenpeace report revealed that both existing and proposed coal power plants in the Philippines can cause up to 2,400 deaths annually. These deaths do not only mean avoidable and unnecessary PhilHealth spending or lost labor productivity – this number also represents young lives that will not be able to reach their full potential, which is a clear violation of fundamental human rights,” said Paeng Lopez, Healthy Energy Initiative campaigner of HCWH Asia.
“On the other hand, transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy will not only produce better quality jobs for Filipinos but guarantee long-term benefits such as lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced environmental disruption, and improvement to public health.”
Stopping climate change
“Aside from its immediate health costs, the bigger impact of coal also relates to how it aggravates climate change, which has been referred to as the greatest health threat of the 21st century,” added Lopez.
“Already, the Philippines is experiencing both patent and latent health effects of climate change, from morbidity and mortality due to natural disasters to changing patterns of spread of infectious diseases, among others.”
“Whilst coal brings energy to households, it also brings darkness to health-impacted and climate-vulnerable homes. Is this indisputable trade-off something this administration is willing to take? We must work together to stop the biggest drivers of climate change, which include coal energy,” stressed Lopez.
HCWH Asia’s Healthy Energy Initiative has been campaigning for the phase out of fossil fuel-based energy and the transition to renewable energy in the country. The campaign, which involves health professionals and organizations, educates the public on the health and economic benefits of renewable energy against dirty energy.
The 2015 short film The Big Show produced by HCWH Asia, featured statements from residents of Limay and medical professionals on the health impacts of coal.