Critics Slam Duterte After He Calls Coal 'Clean' Energy

Coal has long been recognised as the “dirtiest and most carbon-intensive form of fuel for energy generation,” an environment group said.
duterte addressing audience
Photo by Prachatai on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been called out multiple times for the things he says. This time, it is environmentalists standing up to the controversial head of state after he described a coal-fired power plant as “clean.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Duterte led the opening celebration of the 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant of San Buenaventura Power Ltd Co. (SBPL) in Mauban, Quezon province. The plant is meant to provide additional energy supply to the Philippines and boost the government’s infrastructure program. San Buenaventura claims its power plant uses technology that significantly reduces emissions, which led the president to believe that it is clean energy.


“To our friends in the private sector, I ask you to follow the lead of San Buenaventura power by investing in the generation of clean energy,” Duterte said during the event held in Bonifacio Global City.

He also said that his administration is committed to using clean energy to drive the country’s growth.

But environmentalists were quick to point out that the plant will not actually produce clean energy.

Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu said in a statement that the organisation “denounces the Philippine government's backward pro-coal policies.”

“Coal is not clean, not cheap, and not sustainable. It is unfortunate that another coal plant has been inaugurated in the country, by no less than the President who seems to have been misled or misinformed by the coal industry and its ridiculous myth of ‘clean coal’,” Yu said.

According to Greenpeace, coal has long been recognised as the “dirtiest and most carbon-intensive form of fuel for energy generation.”

Coal plants in other parts of the world are now closing after some governments banned them. It’s also an expensive source of energy.

Environmental groups are calling for a shift to wind and solar power.

Spending taxpayer’s money on coal will also aggravate the climate crisis, which already impacts Filipinos. The country is prone to intense heat waves and typhoons.

Netizens were also quick to react to Duterte’s statement and called out the president, with one saying his words were an “oxymoron.”


“Quick, someone brief him on what clean energy actually is,” another tweeted.

SBPL is a limited partnership between MGen, the power generation arm of Metro Manila's only electric power distributor, Meralco; and New Growth BV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thailand’s Electricity Generating Co.

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