Bishop, Commissioners, Beauty Queens and Activists Call for Zero Waste

INTRAMUROS, Manila. Three election commissioners, eight pro-environment beauty queens, a church leader and some 65 environmental activists spoke as one in urging political parties and wannabees to think “green” as they woo the “Pinoy” votes.

With just 12 months away from the national and local polls in May 2010, Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. and Commissioners Rene V. Sarmiento, Armand Velasco and Leonard Leonida joined the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation in exhorting all election stakeholders to heed the plea for reduced campaign waste and pollution.

Together with the newly-crowned Miss Philippines-Earth 2009 winners, green-clad members of the EcoWaste Coalition launched the campaign for “Zero Waste 2010 Elections” in a simple ceremony held outside the headquarters of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Intramuros, Manila.

Among those who graced the event were Miss Earth 2008 Karla Paula Henry, Miss Philippines-Earth 2009 Sandra Seifert, Miss Philippines-Ecotourism Adie Adelantar, Miss Philippines-Fire Patricia Marie Tumulak, Miss Philippines-Air Michelle Martha Braun, Miss Philippines-Water Catherine Loyola, and Miss Philippines-Earth finalist Kirstie Ann Babor.

Also joining the event were the representatives of Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, EARTH UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, November 17 Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan, Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines and other green groups.

“The changes that we seek in 2010 should also embrace efforts to green the electoral platforms and the way the massive campaign to entice voters is conducted,” said Bishop Iñiguez, head of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“I’m happy to support the work of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation to promote climate-friendly polls through ecological campaign practices, and I enjoin all democracy loving Filipinos to go for clean and waste-free elections,” he added.

Com. Sarmiento likewise offered his solidarity with the green advocacy. “I support this well-timed initiative by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation to enrich the exercise of our right of suffrage by instilling our collective responsibility to the environment, and I urge all election stakeholders to heed the call for cleaner and greener elections,” he said.

For her part, Cathy Untalan, Executive Director of the Miss Earth Foundation, said: “At this time of global ‘environmental’ crisis, we need to discern the leaders who will lead us to sustainability. Environment should be one of their top priorities for our beloved country.”

“This love for the Earth should not only be seen after they are elected into office but even during the campaign period. Our leaders owe it to the people to take extra measures for a cleaner, safer environment,” she emphasized.

Following the launch, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation will reach out to all concerned parties, groups and personalities to ensure broad support for the green 2010 advocacy.

“We will forge links with all major election stakeholders, including the presidential candidates, and obtain their unity with our non-partisan advocacy that is solely in service of Mother Earth,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also hope to raise and promote our green agenda at the proposed national summit of citizens’ groups working for clean, honest and credible elections, which we support,” Panaligan added.

Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, who chairs both the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), last Monday suggested a “national summit” of groups seeking reforms in the nation’s electoral system.

The groups will circulate widely the “10-Point Guidelines for Political Parties, Party List Groups, Candidates and Other Election Stakeholders on Preventing and Reducing Campaign Waste and Pollution in the 2010 Polls,” and secure pledges of support from concerned entities and individuals.

Through the unity of all election stakeholders, the groups look forward to “greener” polls that will reduce wasteful consumption of resources and minimize the creation of garbage, greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other contaminants that are bad to health and the environment.