Environment Groups grade Senate bets from ‘Green’ to ‘Gray’

Manila, 20 April 2007— The Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition and Kaisampalad today announced the results of their 2007 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) in a press conference in Quezon City. The GEI, launched last March 5, assessed the ‘greenness’ of senatorial aspirants based on their stance and track record on key environmental issues.

Topping the survey was Genuine Opposition (GO) candidate and political neophyte Sonia Roco, followed by Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, Manny Villar, and Gringo Honasan. Among the top five ‘greenest’ senate bets, two are political newcomers (Roco and Pimintel), and three (Legarda, Villar, and Honasan) are veteran lawmakers with proven track records on environmental issues. With the exception of Honasan (Independent), the rest of the green circle come from the main opposition party.

The others who answered the survey were (in alphabetical order): Edgardo Angara (GO), Martin Bautista (Ang Kapatiran Party or AKP), Nikki Coseteng (GO), Mike Defensor (TU), Ping Lacson (GO), Cesar Montano (TU), Kiko Pangilinan (Independent), Zosimo Paredes (AKP), Tessie Oreta (TU), John Osmena (GO), Chavit Singson (TU), Adrian Sison (AKP), Tito Sotto (TU), and Migz Zubiri (TU).

The candidates who responded to the survey revealed their positions on water pollution and scarcity, solid waste, toxic waste trade and the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), sustainable agriculture, logging, mining, climate change, and air pollution. They were also asked to disclose their environmental track record.

“In the assessment of candidate responses, we put a premium not only on the quality and clarity of their positions on specific issues, but also their deeds or misdeeds in the environmental field,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez.

“In general, the positions of the ‘greenest’ candidates were clear, well thought-out and consistent, revealing how much importance these candidates attach to key environmental trends now shaping our future such as climate change, waste trade, sustainable agriculture, deforestation, air and water pollution,” he said.

“The disclosure of the candidates’ eco-platforms will help the Filipino electorate in making informed choices come May 14. The choices we make will have serious implications on how the next Senate will see and act upon the many environmental problems besetting our nation. We hope that voters will use the survey results in making green choices for the well-being of Mother Nature,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Collectively, the responses of these senatorial bets also revealed important highlights. All those who responded support the mandatory labeling of products containing GMOs, and are willing to back legislation that will shift the Department of Agriculture’s policy orientation from
chemically-based and synthetic agriculture towards the development of sustainable and organic agriculture. Majority of the candidates expressed their opposition to the continued importation of hazardous waste into the country by supporting the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment. Relatedly, majority are also opposed to the toxic provisions in the JPEPA, signalling that, if elected, they would not be supporting the said treaty’s ratification unless the controversial provisions are amended.

All respondents expressed support for the passage of a strong Renewable Energy Bill and committed to support at least a 5-year moratorium on commercial logging operations in natural forest areas nationwide.

Sadly, 18 of the total 37 senatorial aspirants did not disclose their environmental platforms for public scrutiny. The groups rapped the non-responsive candidates for their seeming indifference and disturbing complacency on environmental issues and identified them as the ‘greyest’ candidates.

These are: Joker Arroyo, Jamalul Kiram III, Vicente Magsaysay, Prospero Pichay, and Ralph Recto from Team Unity; Benigno Aquino III, Allan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes, and Francis Escudero from the Genuine Opposition; Joselito Cayetano, Melchor Chavez, Ruben Enciso, Antonio Estrella, Oliver Lozano, Eduardo Orpilla, and Victor Wood of KBL; Richard Gomez (Independent); and Felix Cantal of Philippine Green Republic Party.

“A green future requires visionary leadership and an enlightened electorate. Our current sad ecological state is a resounding commentary on the failure of vision and political will in our country. By voting for candidates who are actively espousing a green agenda, we can play
our part in forging a greener future for our country.” added Hernandez.

The Green Electoral Initiative 2007 is the second of its kind; the first of such projects was launched before the 2004 elections. The questions in the survey form this year were contributed by the Alyansa Tigil Mina, Basel Action Network Asia Pacific, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Greens, and the Philippine NGO Council for Security and Fair Trade.

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