Duterte administration weighed on environmental issues
A coalition of environmental advocacy organizations launched today its “Green Scorecard” for the 2019 elections, aimed at raising awareness of the voting public on the proposed environmental policies of senatorial candidates.
“Green Thumb Coalition’s Green Scorecard aims to bring forth environmental issues at the center stage of the electoral campaign period, and to encourage the public and candidates to seriously consider a green electoral agenda,” said Norie Garcia of Bantay Kita, one of the convenors of the Coalition. “Knowing where candidates stand in key environmental issues will not only enable us to choose the legislators that we need but to also hold them accountable, once elected, to promises they are going to make during this period.”
Bikers from the Firefly Brigade paraded with the environmental issues around the Quezon City Circle in launching the scorecard. Among the issues touched upon by the scorecard are: biodiversity preservation and ecosystem integrity; natural resource and land use management and governance; sustainable agriculture; waste management; climate justice; energy transformation and democracy; mining, extractives, and mineral resource management; upholding human rights and integrity of creation; and people-centered sustainable development.
“Positive developments tainted by destructive policies, inaction on envi issues”
The coalition also rated President Rodrigo Duterte based on statements he made as a presidential aspirant in contrast to decisions he made as elected Chief Executive.
“It is worth noting that mechanisms provided by our 15-year-old RE Law were only implemented under Digong’s administration, and so is the tax on imported coal. However, we cannot overlook how the approval of coal plant projects and coal operating contracts have been made easier at the expense of the public and communities with the President’s issuance of Executive Order 30 last June 2017,” noted Atty. Avril De Torres of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED). “As a result, the Philippines has been derailed in achieving the global initiative to address climate change. This also jeopardizes the price of electricity in our country and our capacity to achieve clean, affordable electricity, as coal assets are expected to become stranded,” she continued.
In terms of waste management, the Ecowaste Coalition pointed out that Duterte’s DENR rolled out important Administrative Orders on effective control of chemicals that have negative effects on health and the environment. “Our battle against waste, both domestically produced and those coming from overseas, has yet to be won. While our nation‘s waste production continues to swell, foreign garbage dumping persists as well,” said Ecowaste National Coordinator Aileen Lucero.
“To make the matter worst, waste-to-energy incineration is disturbingly being touted as the way out of this garbage overload aggravated by the relentless production, consumption, and disposal of single-use plastic packaging, and by foreign waste importation. We need pro-health and pro-environment politicians, especially among the aspiring senators, representatives, and local government officials, who will speak and stand up for real solutions to our waste and pollution woes,” Lucero continued.
The WWF-Philippines took note of positive developments in the protection of marine and coastal resources such as the Boracay and Manila Bay clean-up, but raised concerns on reclamation projects, as small to medium reclamations are still rampant and ongoing around the country, with many LGUs are still planning for reclamation. “We are concerned over the Philippine Reclamation Authority being transferred to the Office of the President, as it may be a move to fast-track all the interest of big businesses behind the reclamation projects, which will definitely endanger mangroves and biodiversity,” said Atty. Gia Ibay of WWF-Philippines.
“The Duterte Government has failed to include people-participation in its development projects and programs with its Build Build Build agenda being mainly anchored on infrastructure development and investment,” said Manjette Lopez of Sanlakas. “Not only this but Human Rights advocates have been vilified and human rights violations have increased throughout the Duterte Government’s incumbency. Institutional human rights protection mechanisms have been undermined under Duterte’s watch,” she continued.
Mining organizations Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Save Sierra Madre Network, SOS Yamang Bayan Network, and Bantay Kita took note of positive developments in mining such as the open pit mining ban, and the increase of mining taxes from 2% to 4%. However, they lamented, among other issues, the lack of transparency in the evaluation of mining projects, particularly the appeals process of the closed and suspended mining operations, and the lack of mining standards that factor in climate change vulnerability and disaster risk management of communities.
“This is why mining is an election issue. We should ensure that those who will be elected in government, at any level, should respect rights, and lives; and will promote life with dignity for all,” said Judy A. Pasimio of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). “Mining is the opposite of rights, life, and dignity. Therefore, we must not vote candidates who are for mining, involved in mining and supported by mining.”
Environmental concerns are women’s concerns
The press conference was led by women speakers, in recognition of March as Women’s Month. The Coalition’s leaders articulated how environmental concerns are also women’s concerns. “Mining is a women’s issue. As large-scale mining operations destroy the land, water, and forests, mining destroys sources of food, traditional medicine, livelihoods, and ways of life,” said Pasimio.
“According to the IPCC, women experience more vulnerability because of climate change, which is primarily fueled by dirty energy from fossil fuels,” said Oyette Zacate of Oriang. “We enjoin women to not remain mere casualties of the climate crisis and environmental destruction, but take leadership in rejecting a dirty future for us, the next generation, and the rest of society.”
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