PGMA as “Green Czar” Draws Critical Reactions from Environmentalists

Quezon City. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointment of herself as “green czar” has drawn critical comments from environmentalists working on waste, energy and climate issues.

Environmental leaders particularly dismissed her decision as contained in Executive Order 776 to create 14 task groups, including one on solid waste management, to oversee various facets of environmental conservation, protection and restoration.

“This appears to be a rebuke of the erstwhile bodies responsible for these tasks. But what the country needs is a comprehensive policy and coordinated action on climate change as soon as possible, especially adaptation for our most vulnerable sectors. It’s confusing and counter-productive to have several government agencies charged with the same tasks. I hope this won’t turn out to be ‘all sound, no fury’ pronouncement,” said Marie Marciano, President of Mother Earth Foundation and Vice-President of Philippine Network for Climate Change.

“As for solid waste, what has always been needed is to implement the law, not another body, not bad and costly ‘solutions’ like landfills,” Marciano added.

“Creating a task group on solid waste is totally redundant since there is supposed to be a multiagency National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) assigned to lead the implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Although the Commission has not been effective, what is needed is to revamp, energize and strengthen it
and ensure it performs,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition, commented.

Hidalgo observed that “a casual look at our littered streets, garbage-clogged canals and rivers, and overflowing, and at times smoldering, dumps is enough to show how lackluster R.A. 9003’s
implementation has been.” The latest available data from National Solid Waste Management Commission website shows that some 806 open dumps and 379 controlled dumps are still operating throughout the country despite the national ban under R.A. 9003, the first law that Arroyo signed when she assumed the presidency.

“Notwithstanding good intentions, this is a stinging rebuke of the DENR’s failure to implement the law. Eight years after GMA signed R.A. 9003, we are nowhere close to meeting waste reduction targets. Creating another body won’t solve the problem, simply implement the law,” said Von Hernandez, founding convenor of the EcoWaste Coalition and current Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“As climate czar, GMA could do a lot more by ensuring the effective implementation of the Renewable Energy law, and guaranteeing that dirty coal and nuclear energy will not override the mainstreaming of clean, renewable energy sources in the country,” Hernandez added.

“GMA’s latest ‘czarism’ should be keenly watched as it invites doubts on the programs and purported honest intentions as they are ‘band-aid approaches’ to elemental shortcomings of governance. We should all watch out for and be wary about concomitant costs of ‘czarism’,” said Rene Pineda, President, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP).

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376