Environmental leaders expressed mixed opinions about the inaugural speech of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III (P-Noy) that accentuated his campaign slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”
Based on feedback sent via text at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition, responding environmentalists shared their views about the 22-minute speech of P-Noy after he was sworn in as 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines.
While some advocates found his speech disappointing for failing to address burning environmental issues, others praised his tough stance against pervasive corruption, stressing that P-Noy’s commitment to good governance can translate to better enforcement of the country’s environmental laws.
“We applaud P-Noy for committing to curb corruption, greed and official abuse of power during his term of office. After all, these are the same forces driving ecological ruin and the deep social inequities associated with our wanton abuse of the environment,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “I hope that the President’s failure to include the environment in his inaugural speech does not mean the issue will not be a priority of his administration. Whether the President likes it or not, the prospects of runaway climate change mean greater hardship for millions of Filipinos. He cannot ignore this ugly truth now staring us in the face.”
“Out of bad governance comes environmentally destructive projects and poor enforcement. Our country’s institutions are so badly broken that we are deeply immobilized and cannot function as it should. I believe he is correct and realistic to start with putting order in the house first. He ran on a platform of good governance, transparency and accountability. That, to me, is the broader meaning of green,” added Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Cebu-based Philippine Earth Justice Center observed that P-Noy’s speech was about accountable, participatory and transparent governance under the rule of law, noting that “justice for all encompasses environmental justice.”
“Everything in his speech was green at it was about ensuring a culture of trust and respect for all,” she said. “For instance, genuinely eradicating red tape under Republic Act 9485 would make government more responsive, effective and efficient. Thus delivery of essential services is prioritized.”
However, some environmental leaders found P-Noy’s speech wanting in terms of explicitly disclosing what the new chief executive plans to do in the environmental front.
“Nothing on the environment nor sustainable development. He focused chiefly on mainstream topics. He still needs to be educated on the interconnectedness of health, poverty, economics and the environment. The latter being the most basic,” commented Dr. Angelina Galang, Coordinator, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy.
“Policy pronouncement on the environment was a glaring absence in his speech. Coupled with a highly questionable appointee to the DENR post, this is such a disappointment to an otherwise historic event,” said Lia Esquillo, Executive Director of the Davao-based Interface Development Interventions.
“This is a sad day for the Philippine environment. He spoke against wang-wang (sirens), counterflow of vehicles and tong (bribe), but forgot about the Ondoy and Pepeng victims,” lamented Joey Papa, President, Bangon Kalikasan Movement who also commented that “the appointment of Ramon Paje is a disastrous decision of P-Noy.
“It’s disappointing for the greens, but he kept to his campaign promises that won him the presidency. Environment was not a topic in his campaign sorties,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson, Mother Earth Foundation.
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