Manila City. In anticipation of the midterm elections next week, the EcoWaste Coalition called on all local and national candidates to uphold the wellbeing of Filipino people and Mother Earth, while appealing to the electorate to exercise their right to vote into office pro-people and pro-environment leaders.
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) spokesperson Atty. James Jimenez also joined the environmental advocates in urging the citizenry to cast their votes on polling day and “choose candidates who represent environmental concerns” as he appealed to poll bets and their groups to conduct immediate cleanup after the polls.
Through a street play on the grounds of Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Gulayan People’s Neighborhood Association, Inc. (GPNAI) and the youth group Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura (MALAYA), engaged the public on how to select leaders with hearts and minds filled with the yearning to do what is good for the people and the environment.
The group simultaneously read an environmental oath as they pledged to utilize their right to suffrage by voting for candidates who stand for the people’s health and the welfare of the environment.
EcoWaste Coalition Vice President Ochie Tolentino exhorted the public to carefully scrutinize all candidates, take note of their advocacies and pledges, and hold them accountable for their promises once they get elected.
“As the campaign heads into the homestretch, we are bombarded with promises of good health, clean environment, plentiful jobs and a better future from many of our candidates during campaign sorties and via the mainstream and social media frenzy,” Tolentino observed.
“It is our duty as voters to be discerning, in order to differentiate candidates and make sound choices beyond name recalls, celebrity endorsements and partisan affiliations. Please pick candidates who have the sincerity, competence and the track record to push for the needed health, environmental and socio-economic reforms,” she added.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan environmental network advancing a green electoral agenda, has released the following “Guidelines on How to Choose Green Candidates” to help the electorate in choosing candidates for national as well as local positions who can lead the country to a greener and toxics-free future.
1) Do not vote for candidates who use the 5Gs to win: Guns, Goons, Gold, Gin and Garbage. Vote for candidates who stand for the essential Ms: Malinis (Clean), Maayos (Orderly), Matipid (Thrifty), Mapanindigan (Principled), Marangal (Honorable), Mapayapa (Peaceful), Makatao (Humane), Makakalikasan (Pro-Nature) and Maka-Diyos (Godly). Moreover, support candidates known for their simple, pro-people, healthy and ecological lifestyle.
2) Do not support candidates who nail staple, strap or plaster campaign materials on defenseless trees and other restricted sites. Vote for candidates who love and plant trees, use the least amount of campaign materials and abide by the campaign rules.
3) Do not pick candidates who use smoke-belching vehicles that contribute to poor air quality. Go for candidates who walk or ride bicycles rather than those who come in convoy of cars. Vote for those who use fewer vehicles in motorcades and cut fuel consumption and emissions.
4) Do not fall for candidates who make beautiful speeches about their love for the people and the environment, but fail to match their words with deeds. Does the candidate walk his talk? Check if she/he is engaged in any environmental advocacy or project, or has financial interest in any polluting and environmentally destructive business. Vote for those who live by what they say.
5) Do not select candidates who profess to protect the environment, but are mute on what they intend to do. Ask the candidates, point blank, on how they intend to serve the interest of the environment. For instance, ask how they intend to protect and conserve our diminishing water resources. Vote for those who will work earnestly to heal and preserve the environment.
6) Do not choose candidates who are hooked to the outmoded “hakot-tambak-sunog” (haul-dump-burn) and fail to act against illegal dumps. Vote for those who segregate their discards at home and in the work place, and support ecological, low-cost and community-driven alternatives to dumps, landfills and incinerators.
7) Do not vote for candidates who ignore the health, environmental, socio-economic and human rights concerns against ‘sanitary’ landfills, ‘waste to energy’ incinerators, dams, coal power plants and similar facilities. Vote for candidates who will assert the people’s sovereign right to a clean, safe and healthy environment. Go for candidates who will work for sustainable economy and ensure that the people’s basic needs are met and not kowtow to the dictates of big businesses and international funding institutions.
8) Do not elect candidates who want to build big dams and allow mining, logging and other extractive industries to rape our land and abuse human rights, especially the rights of our indigenous peoples. Vote for candidates who will take up the cudgels for the human as well as non-human victims, such as trees, plants and wildlife; go for those who will act against environmentally-damaging human activities.
9) Do not back candidates who remain silent against the health, safety and other threats of cigarette smoking, the aerial spraying of agrochemicals, and of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Vote for candidates who will advance tobacco control, the people’s right to safe and healthy food as well as food production systems that nurture the earth.
10) Do not vote for candidates who refuse to act on chemical pollution, toxic waste and the climate challenge. Vote for candidates who see the need for preventive and precautionary actions to advance chemical safety and a toxics-free future for all. Go for candidates who oppose new coal power projects and support clean, renewable energy investments to address the nation’s energy needs and beat climate change.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.