2010 Candidates Urged to Bare Environmental Plans and Solutions

Quezon City. A coalition of citizens’ groups dealing with pollution, climate and chemical safety issues exhorted all politicians eyeing the 2010 polls to inform and interact with the people about their environmental plans and solutions.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network of over 85 groups, pressed the politicians to commence a real honest-to-goodness disclosure of where they stand on the many environmental issues afflicting the country and the solutions they offer if any.

“We urge our politicians to publicly disclose their environmental agenda and plan for action. Given the unhealthy state of our environment, we find it essential for presidential and other political aspirants to unveil an authentic people-centered prescription for breathing new life into our degrading ecosystems,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The people expect a robust program from the country’s new leadership that will genuinely address the confluence of garbage, toxic and climate woes that is affecting the country’s poor the most,” he added.

In a statement sent to the press, the EcoWaste Coalition identified specific environmental questions that contenders from all political parties and blocs should address as integral parts of their platform of good governance and change in 2010.

The questions were compiled from a text survey involving some of the Coalition’s participating groups from the academe, church and the broad civil society.

“How will you clean up Pasig River, Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and other polluted marine ecosystems? How do you intend to cut the production of garbage and their disposal in dumpsites, landfills as well as water bodies? How will you protect consumers from toxic chemicals that abound in common products for children and adults alike?”

“The Philippines is one of the world’s most deforested and polluted countries. What do you think caused this and what do you plan to do about it if elected as President? How will you save the Sierra Madre from further destruction due to illegal logging, mining, dumping and kaingin?”

“How do you plan to support and mainstream energy from renewable sources? What is your position on nuclear power and coal-fired power plants? Are you in favor of recommissioning the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant?”

“What is your position on the public clamor to ban aerial spraying in commercial agricultural plantations as it adversely affects the people’s health, environmental and human rights? What is your position on genetically-engineered crops as major exports of the Philippines? Will you approve a national ban on GMOs? Will you implement fully organic agriculture in the country?”

Some respondents also asked questions pertaining to the presidential candidates’ knowledge and position on the Philippine Agenda 21 or PA 21, which is the country’s national agenda for sustainable development based on the Global Agenda 21 that resulted from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

“Will PA 21 guide you in your policies and decisions if elected? Will you implement it to the letter as mandated? And if yes, are you willing, despite immunity from suits, to go to jail for violating PA 21.”

Meanwhile, some members of the EcoWaste Coalition expressed interest in knowing whether the candidates will receive campaign donations from the chemical, pesticide, pharmaceutical, tobacco, mining and waste management industries, some of which have drawn the fury of affected groups and communities for their harmful effects on public health and the environment.

“What is your policy on accepting funds from businesses and industries? Will you receive donations from companies engaged in environmentally destructive ventures? How will you ensure that the receipts of funds from donors will not affect your independence to speak and to act in favor of the public interest? How do you intend to be transparent on financial matters involving your campaign?”

“We hope that candidates from all parties and blocs will dwell on issues and use every opportunity to inform the Filipino voters about their views and solutions to the many environmental issues facing the nation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.