[OPINION] Think about the environment when you vote
This is a #PHVote newsletter sent to subscribers on May 8, 2019.
Hello! I'm Jee Geronimo. I'm the Rappler desk editor who oversees most of the science and environment stories you read on the site.
I used to be an environment reporter myself, and at a very interesting time at that. The year was 2016, and newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte tapped anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Roy Cimatu, a military man, replaced her, and the change in leadership was so evident. From closing and suspending mining operations, the environment department was rehabilitating tourist destinations like Boracay and Manila Bay instead.
While mining and environmental degradation are both very important issues, in the last 3 years government has barely scratched the surface in terms of addressing the country's many environmental problems.
For starters, you may not be aware that all throughout 2018, the Commission on Human Rights conducted public hearings on a petition filed against the world's largest investor-owned fossil fuel and cement producers. Climate change is real, and disaster survivors are taking it upon themselves to hold those responsible to account.
Did you know that the Philippines has, in recent years, consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous places to defend rights to land and the environment? According to environmental monitor Global Witness, the Philippines saw 48 environmental defenders killed in 2017 – the highest number ever in an Asian country.
And then there's the smuggled garbage from Canada that we can't seem to get rid of. The President has already given Canada until May 15 to start transporting the garbage out of the Philippines. Let's see how that will play out.
The amount of work that needs to be done is massive, yes, but it's not hopeless. And you can do something – starting with the upcoming elections.
As in past elections, green groups have made it their mission to inform voters about candidates' stand on environmental issues. For the 2019 midterm elections, the Ecological Challenge for Change Coalition ranked 24 senatorial candidates from best to worst environmental track record. Read about their ranking here.
There's an initiative called #IsyuHindiKandidato, where advocacy groups, including environmental organizations, seek to steer the election discourse toward issues that affect our daily lives. All politics is local, as the saying goes, so ask your local candidates where they stand on the most pressing environmental problems in your community. Ask for solutions, not promises.
We're just 5 days away from elections. Let's wade through the noise and elect leaders who will work for the environment. – Rappler.com
Aside from the environment, here are other issues you should consider when you vote on May 13:
- 70% of Filipinos will support candidates who push for higher tobacco taxes – Pulse Asia
- On Labor Day, rival groups ask voters to elect senators who 'truly' represent workers
- [ANALYSIS] 6 economic issues senatorial bets ought to be talking about
Read more from Rappler's #PHVote coverage:
- 10 of 14 Senate bets in winning circle come from political dynasties
- Will the labor vote prevail in the midterm elections?
- How Otso Diretso uses political stunts to keep its campaign afloat
- Spotlight on surveys: Bong Go's rise and how other HNP bets are faring
- Duterte, PDP-Laban campaign rallies: Showbiz, insults, late night rants