Pro- or anti-environment: What can we expect from presidential bets

KD Suarez
Pro- or anti-environment: What can we expect from presidential bets
The environmental network Green Vote 2016 tries to grade the candidates. Rappler does its own research to give a full picture of their stand on 6 environmental issues.

MANILA, Philippines – Who among the presidential candidates take environmental issues seriously?

A group of environmentalists under the Green Vote 2016 campaign released this week a “report card” that gave presidential candidates “passed or failed” mark for each of 6 issues: mining, climate change, building of coal power plants, Canada trash, commercialization of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and killing of environmentalists.

Based on the report card, Miriam Defensor Santiago got the most number of “passed” remarks, while Manuel Roxas II got a perfect zero.

Rappler did its own research to give a full picture of the candidates’ stand on these issues.

Mostly ‘motherhood statements’

Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said in a press statement that Green Vote 2016 used two criteria: the candidates’ answers to a questionnaire distributed to them, and a research on their track records, bills, and statements

Bautista said only Santiago answered the questionnaire, while their research showed that the candidates had been making mostly “motherhood statements” on these environmental issues.

“While some candidates have progressive records and stands on particular environmental issues, not one among them offered a comprehensive environmental platform to reverse environmental degradation and plunder across all ecosystems and natural resources,” Bautista said.

Below is the result of Green Vote 2016 campaign report card.

Presidentiables Mining Climate Change Coal Power Canada Trash GMOs Killings
Jejomar Binay Failed Passed Failed Failed Failed Failed
Rodrigo Duterte Passed Passed Failed Passed Failed Failed
Grace Poe Failed Passed Passed Passed Failed Failed
Mar Roxas Failed Failed Failed Failed Failed Failed
Miriam Santiago Failed Passed Passed Passed Passed Passed

Mining

The group said Binay was “worst in mining” since he supposedly promised more incentives and privileges to mining corporations, according to Bautista.

However, in a 2015 mining conference, Binay said he is open to the promotion of “environmentally and socially responsible mining, adopting the constitutional principle of balancing interests over the long-term.”

While the group gave Poe a “failing” mark on mining, she said in her previous interviews that she is open to responsible mining, but also called on mining firms to be more transparent about their operations.

Roxas also got a “failing” mark because illegal small-scale mining operations, especially black sand mining projects, supposedly increased during his term as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary.

Bautista said that Roxas has also invested in some mining companies: “We saw that he had a history of supporting mining corporations since he became DTI, DOTC, and DILG secretary. Also, in his [statement of assets] we saw that he invested or he had interest in mining companies.”

Roxas was secretary of trade, transportation and communications, and the interior and local government under 3 presidents.

“We also know that among his supporters and campaigners are owners of big mining companies, such as Edgar Erice and Eric Gutierrez,” Bautista added. (READ: Inside Balay: Who’s who in the Roxas campaign)

Meanwhile, Duterte said that if he gets elected, he will allow “responsible mining.”

Climate change

For complete list of presidential candidates’ stand and platforms on climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM), read: Climate change, disasters and 5 presidential bets.

Binay, who got a “passing” mark from Green Vote, is pushing for the use of renewable energy.

Among Duterte’s plans, who was given a “passing” mark, is to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by installing state-of-the-art anti-pollution equipment and cracking down on dirty factories.

During the second presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections last March 20, Duterte accused the United Nations of hypocrisy because of what he saw was unfair commitments under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). Although the Philippines was one of the lowest contributors to global emissions, they are expected to adhere to the 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Poe’s platform, on the other hand, include improvements in the agricultural sector by boosting irrigation, land reform, and farm mechanization programs. A more robust agricultural sector means it has more chances of surviving drought, storms, and pests introduced by the changing climate, she said.

She has also sponsored a number of bills on disaster management, one of which became the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act.

Meanwhile, the group gave Roxas a “failing” mark, citing his “negative record on pursuing environmentally-destructive policies and programs of the Aquino administration.”

The group also said that as the DILG chief, he “failed to adequately prepare and respond to the increasing number and severity of typhoon disasters like Typhoon Yolanda and Pablo.”

Santiago was given a “passing” mark for having filed disaster-related bills, such as national flood insurance bill and flood recovery bill.

Coal power

While Binay has not said much about the use of coal energy in the country, he said he wants to fully implement the Renewable Energy (RE) law and achieve 50% RE in the country’s power supply by 2030. He would also particularly promote hydro power as one of the cheapest forms of RE.

Duterte got the “worst in coal” grade from the group because of his “all-out” support for the building of coal power plants in Davao City, according to Bautista.

Meanwhile, the group gave Poe a “passing” mark “for her consistent stand on calling for a shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy,” the group said. When elected, she said she would prioritize renewable energy as a source of power for the country.

While Roxas got a “failing” mark, he said in a Manila Bulletin article that if he is elected president, he will “give incentives to the natural gas and other clean energy such as geothermal and hydroelectric so that more of our energy would come from clean energy sources.”

Meanwhile, Santiago got a “passing” mark for pushing for moratorium on coal, Bautista said. In previous interviews, Santiago also said she wants to fast-track the implementation of the RE law. She also filed a bill to increase the use of RE in the agricultural sector, one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada trash

Binay has not said much about the issue, prompting the group to give him a “failing” mark.

Duterte, on the other hand, was given a “passing” mark, saying that he has been very vocal about his stand on the issue of Canada’s trash in the Philippines by urging the Aquino administration to lodge a diplomatic protest against the Canadian government.

While Poe, who has not said much about Canada’s trash, also got a passing mark. 

Roxas got a “failing” mark. At the height of the issue of exported trash, he was DILG secretary and environmental groups urged him to encourage local government units to reject “the dumping of Canadian trash in their respective dumpsites citing the danger it poses to the public,” according to a Manila Bulletin article.

Santiago, who got a “passing” mark, filed resolutions that would probe Canada’s illegal dumping of garbage in the country.

GMOs

Binay and Poe, who have not said much about GMOs, both got “failing” marks.

While Duterte got a “failing” mark from the group, it should be noted that Davao City has the Organic Agriculture Ordinance, which mandates organic agriculture as the main agriculture practice in the city since 2009.

The group gave Roxas a “failing” mark, but he in fact initiated investigations into proper labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to a GMANews article

Santiago got a “passing” mark for being the “lone bet to work on GMO regulations.” In 2013, she filed Senate Bill 1209 that would establish a genetically modified organism registry.

Killings

When it comes to the killing of environmentalists, all candidates failed except Santiago.

Poe got a “failing” mark for not releasing any statement condemning the act, according to Bautista.

In 2014, Santiago filed a resolution that would probe killings of environmentalists, after the Philippine Star reported that the Philippines “has been ranked the most dangerous place for environmental activists in Asia, and third worldwide according to the international group, Global Witness.”

Bautista stressed the importance of knowing the presidential candidates stand on environmental issues, as the presidential elections draw near.

“Yung kanilang record at kanilang posisyon ang magiging sukatan kung ano yung gagawin nila pag nakaupo na sila,” Bautista explained. (Their track records and their stands will be the basis of their plans and actions once they are elected). – Rappler.com

 

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