Greenpeace activists "sleep in" at presidentiables’ campaign headquarters, Demand commitment on concrete water protection measures

Feature story - May 6, 2010
Greenpeace today warned those vying for the next presidency against sleeping on climate change issues that greatly impact on the everyday lives of Filipinos. The environmental group emphasized the warning by holding a “sleep in” at the campaign headquarters of Noynoy Aquino and Gibo Teodoro, two of three presidential candidates who have yet to reply to a Greenpeace letter of demand to prioritize water protection measures during the first 100 days of office should any of them emerge victorious in the coming elections.

A Greenpeace activist wearing a face mask of presidential aspirant Gilbert Teodoro sleeps on a mat depicting a drought parched soil at Teodoro’s campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

Filipinos will be electing our next leaders in less than a week, and yet some of the leading contenders have yet to take a solid and clear stand on issues that continue to wreak havoc on the country every year. We are worried that the country will remain most vulnerable and least prepared for climate change impacts if the next President continues to ignore and sidestep such issues. The country needs a concrete action plan to help the nation cope with the mounting impacts of climate change, and the next president has to hit the ground running on this issue when he or she assumes office," said Mark Dia, Deputy Campaign Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Activists wearing masks of the presidentiables "slept" on cushions placed upon mats depicting the cracked soil of agricultural lands dried up by El Niño, and had blown up versions of the Greenpeace letter of demand as their blankets.

 

The other week, Greenpeace had delivered the letters to respective campaign headquarters, along with images from drought affected areas around the country.  The letter asked for two specific measures:

1) Prioritize hazards and vulnerability-assessments to identify risks, and implement adaptation measures to prevent or alleviate water shortage in case of drought; or lessen damage to crops, property and infrastructure in the case of too much rain. Greenpeace identified two possible and measurable steps to achieve this:

  • Establish at least 25 small community/farmland water impoundments in areas most at risk to drought;
  • Create a special fund for research on non genetically-engineered drought-resistant crops, innovative farming techniques and technologies that minimize water consumption.

2) Improve the existing capabilities of monitoring teams to develop efficient forecasting and warning systems for extreme weather events that are critical to protecting lives, property and critical environmental resources. This includes engaging the academe and NGOs to be partners of PAGASA in data-sharing, weather monitoring and forecasting; and directing the MMDA and the DPWH to de-clog Metro Manila storm drains by August 2010.

The drought images were gathered from the Greenpeace Water Watch project that had established a week-long camp at the Angat reservoir from April 12, and the mobile Water Watch station that had expeditions into drought-stricken agricultural communities in North and Central Luzon.

Angat Dam supplies 97% of Metro Manila's household and industrial water requirements, irrigation for agricultural lands in Bulacan and Pampanga, and water for the operation of a hydroelectric power plant for Metro Manila. The water level in the reservoir breached the 180masl (meters above sea level) critical point on April 13 and continues to recede by about 0.24meters a day -- or a meter every four to five days.

"Just a few months ago, the country was caught unprepared by unprecedented levels of rainfall and landslides during typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. Clearly, climate change is already upon us, and the country is among the most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with the impacts," added Dia. "We will continue to periodically feel the effects of extreme weather events that leave us with either no water or too much water. In the case of the latter, our fresh water supplies are threatened by contamination, so either way, our water resources are periodically at risk. We shouldn't wait for a crisis to act. Greenpeace is asking our future leaders to be more proactive on these challenges which have literally become survival issues for an increasing number of Filipinos."

Greenpeace volunteers will shortly be visiting the headquarters of other candidates who have not committed to Greenpeace's proposals.

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