We are stewards of this earth, God’s earth, we are not the absolute owners of this earth. We are caretakers, custodians and stewards of this earth – whether it is here in Antique or there in Panay.

Whatever is your position in society, an ordinary member of civil society or an official of Government or plain user of the environment, you are challenged to leave behind a legacy for this earth, a legacy that the earth has become better or has lessened the earth’s problem, and not a legacy of destruction.

One of our concerns, we are told, is power shortage. There is discussion going on as to the cause of power shortage: is it real shortage or power crisis? Or is it caused by management crisis? Or even worse, is it caused by leadership crisis? Study shows that we have surplus power in Panay until 2010. But there would be gradual shortage of power in 2011.

You here in Antique with the launching of Villasiga and Guianon – San Ramon Mini Hydro Project are leading the way. Congratulations to your Governor who is also the Chairperson of Regional Development Council, the Honorable Sally Z. Perez. You are one step ahead of a future problem. And you are using renewable energy, hydro or water, which is environment and people friendly. It is conceived that by harnessing hydro-renewable energy in this project you will have enough electric power to light the entire province of Antique. Together with the investors, you are impacting a legacy for the province.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by environmentalist, technical groups, scientists, as well as those in the medical profession. We cannot support those who propose the establishment of coal plants anywhere in Panay as we would be party to the commission of the SOCIAL SIN of polluting our environment and putting at risk the health of our communities. We strongly advocate for sustainable solutions – the harnessing of God–given energy from water, wind and sun. We shall support only those who propose renewable energy projects.

Here in Antique water resources are found in the rivers of Sibalom, Valderrama, Tibiao, Culasi and Patnongon. In Panay, God has gifted us with water to harness for electricity in San Joaquin, Igbaras, Lambunao, Maasin, Barotac Viejo, Lemery, Leon, Janiuay and Miag-ao. The big question and challenge is why waste money on importing expensive coals from other countries? Knowing the Filipino propensity for short-cuts and ningas-cogon, the cleanest coal will come out polluting Panay.

Antique is leading the way. We would like the Secretary of DENR, the Honorable Lito Atienza and the Secretary of DOE, the Honorable Angelo Reyes to please reserve Panay or Western Visayas for renewable energy of water, wind and sun for electric power.

The seven bishops of Western Visayas and Romblon in a Pastoral Letter last January 16, 2005 have already expressed their objection to the entry of coal-fired power plants.

We are challenging the leadership in Panay to leave a clean legacy for the province. Clean Coal is a misnomer, a myth. Coal is a pollutant of the environment, its effects in the air and water have been proven to cause asthma, cardiac problems, upper and lower respiratory tract problems. Pollution from dirty power plants kills more people every year than drunk drivers and murderers. The elderly the children and those with respiratory diseases are more severely impacted by this pollution. Coal plants contribute greatly in global warming. Let us not condemn the future of young Filipinos who will blame us without end for having cared less for their future.

Antique is leading the way. Thank you for showing Panay the way.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
June 5, 2008

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