April 19, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago may not be leading the surveys in this year’s presidential race, but environmental groups under the Green Vote 2016 campaign have named her as the “greenest” among the candidates.
Results of the group’s assessment showed Santiago leading with six out of seven points, closely followed by Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, both with four points.
Coming in third was Vice President Jejomar Binay with one point, while Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas landed last with zero point.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and one of the conveners of Green Vote, said all presidential candidates were scored based on their platforms and track records on environmental issues.
Using a report card, he said one point is given to a candidate who passed on issues regarding large-scale mining, coal power, killings of environmentalists, genetically modified organisms (GMO), climate change, Canadian trash, and the PH-US Enhance Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Among presidential candidates, Bautista said it was only Santiago who almost perfected the scorecard for her strong positions against the EDCA, Canadian trash, and coal-fired power plants.
“She is also the lone bet who worked GMO regulations, and passed numerous senate bills and resolutions to address climate change impacts and investigate the killings of environmentalists,” added Gil Catalan of youth environmental group UP Saribuhay, also a co-convening organization of Green Vote.
Catalan said the groups hailed Poe for her consistent stand in calling for a shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy, while Duterte was the lone candidate with a track record of opposing large-scale mining operations through his prohibition of mining in Davao City.
Bautista said Binay scored a point because when he was still a mayor of Makati City, the World Bank cited the city for its strong institutional mechanism for facilitating action on climate change and disaster risk management.
He noted that Roxas earned a “failing mark” because he espoused the anti-environment policies and programs of the Aquino administration.
“During his stint as the secretary of DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and among the leading apologists of the so-called ‘Daang Matuwid’, Roxas demonstrated a negative record on of pursuing environmentally-destructive policies and programs of the Aquino administration,” he said.
Bautista said it was also under Roxas’ watch being the DILG secretary that illegal small scale mining operations such as the numerous black sand mining projects proliferated.
“He also has previous interest in large-scale mining operations and big miners are supporting his presidential candidacy,” he added.
Bautista further noted that Roxas and the Aquino administration also failed to respond to typhoon disasters like Yolanda and Pablo.
“Even at the last moment, Roxas demonstrated his criminal neglect of disaster victims by being the lone candidate who did not condemn the violent dispersal and shooting inflicted by police on El Niño-affected farmers in Kidapawan,” added Frances Quimpo, executive director of the Center for Environmental Concerns–Philippines.
Bautista clarified that the group is not endorsing anyone in the candidates.
While some candidates have progressive records and stands on particular environmental issues, he said no one offered a comprehensive platform to reverse environmental degradation and plunder across all ecosystems and natural resources.
“Not one of them plan to reverse the anti-people and anti-environment policies such as the Mining Act and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act,” said Bautista.
“While there is a chance to vote an environmental leader in Malacanang, what we need to do more is to have a government that will ensure a balanced and healthful ecology. This will only be possible if the people remain vigilant and ‘eco-active’ way beyond the elections,” he added.
Green Vote is an electoral campaign initiated by environmentalists to promote a people’s environmental agenda for candidates and voters.