Greenpeace challenges Noynoy Aquino to be “greenest” Philippine president

Feature story - June 4, 2010
On the eve of World Environment Day, Greenpeace challenged president-elect Noynoy Aquino to be the “greenest” Philippine head of state during his term. The environment group called on Aquino to live up to his promise made on Earth Day last April, to strictly enforce environmental laws, and Greenpeace added, prioritize policies that will ensure clean energy, clean water and safe food for the country.

Greenpeace volunteers went around Metro Manila with banners challenging presidential candidates to take up environmental concerns in their campaign platforms, especially since these issues impact on basic needs: clean energy, clean water and safe food.

"The Filipino people has handed President-elect Aquino the golden opportunity to reverse environmental degradation in the country.  Greenpeace is urging Aquino to tread this path wisely.  Noynoy's term comes at the most crucial years when the world we live in must be secured for succeeding generations: this is the time when all countries must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of climate change, preserve the world's last remaining forests, secure the world's food supply, and avert global water scarcity predicted by experts to arrive in the coming decade," said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Deputy Campaigns Director Mark Dia (L) confers with Liberal Party campaign officer Florencio

"To ensure a sustainable future for the next generations of Filipinos-including minimizing the impacts of environmental disasters such as extreme typhoons and drought-we believe Aquino must take an uncompromising stance where environmental policies are concerned," she added.

Last March, Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition conducted the Green Electoral Initiative survey among the presidential candidates to determine where each of them stood on environment issues that affect the everyday lives of Filipinos.

In the survey, Aquino indicated that he supports a shift to clean energy and technologies. Greenpeace believes that this should translate to ensuring the full implementation of the Renewable Energy Law and to putting a halt to investments in fossil fuels, particularly coal, one of the biggest drivers of climate change.

Aquino has declared that he is against the revival of the BNPP, but wavers on the issue of nuclear energy in general.  "He must realize that nuclear energy is not considered 'clean energy' and should not be part of the energy mix in the Philippines because it takes away money that should be invested into safe renewables," said Baconguis.

"Many people have voted for Aquino because he brings the promise of respect for public participation, transparency and accountability in governance.  During his term, Right-To-Know legislation in terms of chemical use should then also be his priority, for example with regard to toxics in water bodies, as this will ensure that pollution is reduced with the help of communities actively engaged in pollution monitoring," added Baconguis. "We will also urge him to create a groundbreaking policy of zero discharge where toxic chemicals are concerned."

Greenpeace cautions Aquino not to give in to corporate lobby which puts the livelihood and health of Filipinos at risk.  "In the case of safe food for Filipinos, we sincerely hope that genetically-engineered rice or GMO (genetically-modified) rice will not be approved under Noynoy's term as this will reverse any advances in sustainable agriculture that we are sure he would want to support," said Baconguis.  In the GEI survey, Aquino indicated that he supports organic agriculture and other environment-friendly food production technologies.

"Greenpeace applauds president-elect Aquino's campaign promise to bring about 'a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations.'  On World Environment Day, we are calling on him to be the environmental hero who will champion clean energy, clean water and safe food for the good of the country and its people," concluded Baconguis.

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