Green Thumb Coalition pushes for "green" elections in Cebu

Press release - February 17, 2016
Cebu City, February 17, 2016 – Various non-government organizations and civil society groups called on the candidates who are running for the 2016 elections to prioritize environment issues in Cebu. The Green Thumb Coalition, a nationwide network of around 40 NGOs and civil society groups launched a campaign sortie in Cebu City which aims to get the commitment of national and local candidates to embrace a green agenda, and hold newly elected public officials accountable on their positions and commitments to their environmental mandates.

“Few politicians, incumbent and those who are running in the May 2016 elections, have emerged with stand and views on environment and climate change concerns,” the group said in a statement.

In Cebu, Green Thumb aims to elevate environment issues such as the adverse impacts of illegal fishing, reclamation projects, coal plants, and mining. It will also push for the discussion of disaster risk reduction, sustainable communities, food security, and waste management in the electoral platform for 2016.  

“Cebu has continually pushed and led the national discourse on environment issues, such as the Supreme Court decision to ban oil and gas explorations in Tanon Strait, the movement for sustainable communities, and campaign against coal plants and its adverse impact to health and the environment. It’s high time that politicians in Cebu hear out and respect the rights of their constituents and push for a  green agenda in their campaign and implement it,” the group said.

With 2.7 million registered voters, Cebu province holds the highest number of votes in the country according to the Commission on Elections.

Green Thumb Coalition will engage with political aspirants and the voting public by raising the debate on nine key environmental issues at the national level. These include: 1) biodiversity and ecosystem integrity; 2) natural resource and land use management and governance; 3) human rights and integrity of creation; 4) climate justice; 5) mining, extractives and mineral resource management; 6) energy transformation and democracy; 7) sustainable food sovereignty; 8) people-centered sustainable development; and 9) waste management.

The members of Green Thumb Coalition include Oceana Philippines, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Sanlakas, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Movement for Liveable Cebu, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI), AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Bantay Kalikasan Foundation (BK), Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (ECOJIM), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Youth for Rights (Y4R). It has over 40 national and local organization memberships nationwide, which has a combined support of 10 million voters which boosts its potential as a major voting bloc in the May elections.

The Green Thumb Coalition will hold a series of forums nationwide leading up to the May elections to raise awareness among the voting public to choose the right leaders who will champion the environment and share plans for a greener economy. The Coalition is scheduled to be in the provinces of Batangas, Palawan, Zambales, Sorsogon, Mindoro, Tuguegarao, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Samar, Leyte, SOCSARGEN, Davao, Zamboanga and CARAGA to formally introduce the group’s green electoral campaign to the local communities.
 

Quotes by Green Thumb Coalition representatives

“The adoption of the environmental agenda by all candidates for public office is mandated by no less than our Constitution and should be taken to heart by every aspiring public official. Environmental rights are basic human rights which every Filipino has a right to enforce and all public officials the duty to uphold."

"Our Constitution gives to the Filipino people the right to a healthy and balanced ecology. This right cannot be merely ignored or taken away. Public officials are entrusted to uphold this constitutionally mandated right and they must be held accountable to this duty."

"Fisheries are our main protein source and with our oceans on the brink of destruction, we have to elect public officials who truly care about our future."

-Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President Oceana Philippines



"There is urgent need to put the environment agenda at the heart of each Presidential candidates' platform. This will allow the electorate to advance issues that have long been neglected: biodiversity conservation; clean air; clean water; ecological agriculture; sustainable fisheries; renewable energy; and climate resilient communities. We have to make sure that these environment issues are an important basis for deciding who we should elect in May."

"Cebu plays a crucial role in shaping the national green agenda, as efforts there have made headway towards a more livable society. The Cebuanos' love for the oceans are underlined by their landmark dolphins case at the Supreme Court, and by opening the country's first shark sanctuary, among other initiatives. Cebu's engaged citizenry has been very influential in pushing for development and for policies that will ensure natural resources are cared for and sustained.”

-Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia



“Elections are not just about personalities and politicians, but is an opportunity to enjoin people to act collectively on important issues like the environment and the climate,” said Gina Lopez of Bantay Kalikasan. “We aim to raise the discourse on the environment among the national consciousness during and after the election period.”

“The Green Thumb Coalition will hold green sorties in 15 provinces nationwide to foster discourse around environmental and climate agenda, and to challenge candidates to support the campaign,” said Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) Energy Working Group Head and SANLAKAS Secretary- General, Atty. Aaron Pedrosa. “When communities, homes and lives are on the line in the context of climate change, leaders ought to take heed. Now is the time for them to make a stand – for our survival and our future.”

-Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General, Sanlakas / Philippine Movement for Climate Justice


Contact:

Danny Ocampo, Campaigns Manager, Oceana Philippines
0917-811-0469 /

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia
0917-5363-754 /

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General, Sanlakas/ Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
0927-592-4830/