The Catholic Church is going out on a limb to tell the country’s biggest private banks how to run their business.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, urged Bank of the Philippine Islands, Banco De Oro, and Metrobank to divest from coal. The Catholic Church is one of the biggest shareholders of BPI.
In a column in the Inquirer, Pabillo said BPI, BDO and Metrobank “have been found to have the most money lent to and lodged with the biggest coal companies in the Philippines.”
“As Christians, we know that where our resources lie, there also lie our hearts. By continuing to finance coal, Philippine banks will only muddle the conscience of their many depositors who love the Earth and their fellow Filipinos,” Pabillo said.
“We laud the initiative of some Philippine banks in increasing their funding for renewable energy projects. Yet there are still no categorical pronouncements from these banks that they will transition into completely abandoning coal. No target dates have been made for such abandonment,” he said.
Last July 16, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released a pastoral letter, “An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion”, in which it sought a ban on the use of Catholic financial institution funds for coal plants, waste to energy and destructive extractive activities.
“The letter stressed that the Church must divest for the sake of sustainability, and invest instead in practices that honor and safeguard our common home,” Pabillo said.
Pabillo said many foreign banks, such as HSBC and ING have remained profitable despite cutting off links to coal projects, yet remain profitable.
“There is no reason Philippine banks can’t succeed without coal. This is a time to prove their slogans true—that we’re ‘in good hands’, and that they ‘find ways’ to ‘make it easy’,” said Pabillo.