Glory to the Captain: A Photo Essay on Gloria Capitan and the Anti-Coal Movement in Bataan

Gloria Capitan (third from left) with members of the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (SNML)

By Galileo de Guzman Castillo, Focus on the Global South & Carmina Flores-Obanil, 11.11.11

A LONG WAIT FOR JUSTICE. Mounds of melted candle wax spread below the chair where Gloria Capitan sat in her family’s karaoke bar on July 1, when two unidentified motorcycle-riding men shot her in the neck. No suspects have been caught up to this day.

BLEAK AND BARREN. The people were seeking the closure of the open coal storage operated by Limay Bulk Handling Terminal, Inc. (LBHTI). The coal stockpile is located inside the Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services Corporation (SFSPTSC), which is owned by LBHTI. The people blamed the coal dust from the stockpile for the alarming increase in number of residents afflicted with skin diseases and upper respiratory ailments, and for the pollution of the seas of Barangay Lucanin.

COAL KILLS. According to a 2016 Greenpeace-commissioned study conducted by Harvard University[1], there are an estimated 960 premature deaths in the Philippines every year due to the hazardous effects of coal-fired power plants on the health of the people. This number may increase up to 2,410 if new coal-fired power plants continue to be developed.

INDIGNATION RALLY. Family members, relatives, friends, and fellow comrades in the anti-coal movement in Bataan took to the streets to voice their outrage on the killing of Gloria Capitan. Shouts of “Katarungan para kay Gloria Capitan” (Justice for Gloria Capitan) and “Tuloy lang ang laban!” (The struggle continues!) filled the air.

DEVELOPMENT FOR WHOM? The cross-shaped electric poles and long electricity distribution lines seemed like a grim reminder of the long journey towards a just and quick transition to renewable energy and of the lives that have been lost as the struggle against dirty energy continues. The line of crosses seemed to be an allusion to the fact that people were not only dying because of health hazards attributed to coal–they are also being killed to silence and quell the growing movement against coal and other forms of dirty energy.

AT THE BATAAN PROVINCIAL HIGHWAY. People began the 5-kilometer walk to Gloria Capitan’s final interment. The heavens cried with her relatives, friends, and other anti-coal advocates as they decry her death. White balloons were released as she was laid down to her final rest on a gloomy and rainy Sunday afternoon, 10th of July, in her hometown province in Mariveles, Bataan.

JUSTICE FOR GLORIA CAPITAN. Family members of slain anti-coal activist and environmental and human rights defender Ka Gloria drew strength from each other as they sought and demanded justice.

LONG LIVE KA GLORIA!  Gloria Capitan (third from left) with members of the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (SNML). Gloria Capitan devoted the last year and months of her life to the arduous struggle against open coal stockpiles and the use of coal as energy source. She will be remembered for defending her people’s right to a healthy environment.

 
 

[1] “Coal: A Public Health Crisis. Diseases and deaths attributed to coal use in the Philippines.” For more information, see: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/PageFiles/718084/Coal_A_Public_Health_Crisis.pdf

 

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