Open Letter to President-Elect Noynoy Aquino regarding the Criteria for the Selection of the Next DENR Secretary

18 May 2010
His Excellency Benigno S. “Noynoy Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
c/o Room 526, Senate of the Philippines,
GSIS Financial Center, Roxas Boulevard,
Pasay City, Philippines

Dear Mr. President,


Congratulations on your election as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

We join the Filipino people in taking pride in your election as the “People’s President” and wish you success in bringing about a new era of transformational leadership and green governance that our nation has long been praying for.

We remember your 16-point Social Contract, specifically your commitment to shift “from a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of the environment to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources.”

In your statement on the occasion of Earth Day 2010, we happily noted your promise, as part of your strategy to lift our society out of declining environmental conditions, to work for the “strict enforcement” of the country’s environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

To fulfill your environmental objectives, your Excellency will need to appoint an alter ego at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) — one who has indubitable integrity, indefatigable leadership, unstinting political will and above all, faithfulness to ecological values in pushing for real solutions to the whole gamut of environmental issues that we face. These include the formulation and implementation of adaptation strategies to foster public preparedness and resilience to climate change, and instituting chemicals policy reforms towards a toxic-free society for our children and people.

We therefore offer for your consideration the attached set of criteria with the hope that it will be a helpful and useful guide to the Search Committee and the Office of the President in the screening and selection of the ablest person to lead the DENR.

The DENR being the principal agency that is tasked to defend and uphold the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, we request you, Mr. President, to please apply the said criteria for appointing its head who will be primarily tasked to fulfill your contract with the people for sustainable environment and development for all.

Thank you, Mr. President, and we wish you and and our beloved nation every success under your watch.

Sincerely yours,

Roy Alvarez
EcoWaste Coalition


Building on President-elect Noynoy Aquino’s reply to the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey question regarding the qualities of his prospective Environment Secretary, various citizens’ groups would like to propose to the Search Committee and to the incoming President himself to please consider the following criteria in choosing the next person who will take the helm of the principal agency that is tasked to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

She or he:

1. Must be of unquestionable integrity, with no links whatsoever to environmentally critical or destructive projects and activities;

2. Must essentially understand how the earth functions and therefore place the environmental protection agenda at the heart of government policy (e.g., not as a secondary consideration to trade and industrial development);

3. Must be an ecologist with unstinting passion for the environment to help transform the DENR into an agency that will be true to its mandate of protecting the environment (e.g., not facilitating
environmental destruction otherwise);

4. Must have the courage and political will to weed out corruption in the DENR, reverse environmental ruin and redouble the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws;

5. Must possess the vision and the political will to transform the DENR into a transparent and accountable agency and who realizes that stakeholders participation to decision-making process is a must for any program to be effective and sustainable;

6. Must be able to apply practical solutions, cost effective means to get over obstacles and can harness various sectors to support decisions for the environment that may not be acceptable to some sectors due to their economic interests;

7. Must have the political will and the gumption to make industry comply and can harness the department and law enforcement agencies to bring down the full force of the law against violators;

8. Must be a visionary, dynamic and creative to transform a festering environmental problem (like garbage for instance) into an opportunity that will help generate jobs and energize our communities
into positive action;

9. Must be committed to moving the nation quickly from its dependence on dirty, climate destroying and polluting technologies to clean alternatives (e.g., fossil fuels to renewable energy, advance clean production, etc.); and

10. Must be committed to safeguarding our people’s health against toxic chemicals and to applying the precautionary principle, enforcing pollution prevention and reduction strategies, upholding environmental justice and other relevant policies and measures that will contribute to building a toxic-free society for the health and safety of all, especially the Filipino children.


Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Alaga LAHAT
Jessie Dimaisip, Akbayan
Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang NARS
Edlyn Grace Corpuz, ATSITRA
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Comm. Elsie Brandes de-Veyra, Citizens Organization Concerned with
Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Esther Pacheco, Citizens Organization Concerned with
Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Neneng Jocson, Confederation ng Kalikasan, Nueva Ecija
Grace Chua, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Fr. Glen Melo, Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste Coalition
Angie Esquejo, Empowerment, NE
Dr. Ma. Encarnita B. Limpin, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Alliance Philippines
Manny Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Dr. Nina Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment
and Sustainable Economy
Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Albert Gavino, Green Stage Filipinas – MASKARA
Cathy Untalan, Miss Earth Foundation
Bing Gonzalez, Health Advocate of Nueva Ecija
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Florita Dumaga, HUGALNA, Bohol
Lia Esquillo, Interface Development Interventions, Inc.
Anne Ferazzini, Interface Development Interventions, Inc.
Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and
Ecological Alternatives
Roland Cabigas, La Liga Policy Institute
Sr. Maria Aida Velasquez, Lingkod Tao Kalikasan
Betty Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Fe Juane, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Allan Tura, Makabata para sa Bayan, Inc.
Rosa Palma-Piciller, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Noemi Tirona, Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms
Romeo Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Charie Balaong, Nueva Ecija Women Leaders Advocacy Coalition
Felina Delfin, Outreach Phils, Inc
Ruperto B. Aleroza, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan
Reynante V. Ramilo, Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern
Isagani Serrano, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Ricky Nunez, PUSOD
Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod sa Inang Kalikasan
Ben Galindo, Sagip Pasig Movement
Bro. Martin Francisco, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.
Fr. Pete Montallana, OFM, Save Sierra Madre Network
Tom Villarin, SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Consortium for Asset Reform
and Regional Development
Bang Palacio, Sining Yapak
Dr. Helen Mendoza, Soljuspax
Ma. Ronely D. Bisquera-Sheen, Tanggol Kalikasan
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr, Diocese of Caloocan
Atty. Amang Mejia, Counsel, EcoWaste Coalition
Fidel Nemenzo, Science and Society Program, College of Science, UP Diliman
Dr. Romy Quijano, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UP Manila
Fr. Jett Villarin, President, Xavier University
Nonoy Cacayan
George Dadivas
Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSsR
Atty. Tanya Lat
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos
Elsie Retanan
Victoria M. Segovia