December 6, 2017

National coalition brands Drilon as ‘Coal King’ for siding with firms vs. tax hike

The Power 4 People Coalition voiced out their support of the proposed P0.10 coal tax hike in the tax reform bill, criticizing Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for defending the current P0.01/kg along with the coal industry.

The national coalition of consumers, electric cooperatives and environmental groups called on Congress to “tax coal oligarchs, not consumers” while naming Drilon as “Coal King” ahead of this afternoon’s third bicameral meeting on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill.

“Not taxing coal is the real anti-poor measure,” said Khevin Yu, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines in a press conference, in response to Drilon’s and coal companies’ defense that the tax hike will impact the poor.

“This excuse that the coal tax hike is anti-poor is the line of politicians like Drilon who want to protect their own interests,” added Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

“It is Meralco, Aboitiz, DMCI, and other coal oligarchs who are truly afraid of losing the undeserved privilege accorded to them by the State with the imposition of the tax mechanism,” Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas secretary general. “The coal tax must be seen as a signal for coal oligarchs that their free ride is over.”

Ahead of the press conference, Fr. Warren Puno of the Our Lady of Angels Parish in Atimonan, Quezon said “a higher coal tax would protect Atimonan’s people and environment and help end the reign of our heavy yet needless dependence on coal. Atimonan is sustained by fishing and agriculture and the coal ash from MGen’s proposed plant would pollute our town and spur climate change.” Atimonan is the site of the proposed coal plant of the Meralco-owned MGen.

Removing pass-on provisions which shift the burden of paying for the cost of coal to the consumer would shield citizens from any effect of the coal tax on electricity prices, said Atty. Avril De Torres from the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development.

“Mechanisms may also be set up to ensure that revenue produced from the coal tax will contribute to providing greater energy access among citizens, and promoting the use of cheaper renewable energy alternatives,” she added.

“The passage of the coal tax hike is just and necessary to help protect our people and environment from the devastating impacts of coal consumption,” added Atty. Angela Consuelo Ibay, head of WWF-Philippines’ Climate and Energy Program. “It is important to work together with energy stakeholders including legislators to come up with effective energy tax measures that target the source and scale of the environmental costs while addressing challenges brought by higher energy and transportation costs.”

“If members of the Congress really care for their constituents’ electricity bills, they will amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and recommend the cancellation of new coal plants,” said Erwin Puhawan of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

About Pilipinas is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. Pilipinas is a member of the Power 4 People Coalition.