Groups deplore lack of clear plans, positions on environment issues

Press release - March 21, 2016
Cebu City–Environmental groups who converged in Cebu yesterday for the second leg of the PiliPinas Presidential Debates 2016 expressed disappointment at the candidates’ lack of any clear positions and plans regarding urgent environmental issues challenging the country.

More than 2,000 environmentalists, farmers, scientists, representatives from the academe and the church, and members of local and national groups from all over the Philippines had come to Cebu to press candidates for clearer positions on environmental issues in their governance platforms.

“From what we’ve seen so far, the Presidential candidates need a more thorough understanding of environmental issues that have to be quickly addressed, as these greatly affect other developmental problems such as poverty, health and food security.  They make vulnerable sectors even more vulnerable the longer they are left unchecked,” said Naderev “Yeb” Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“The Presidential aspirants make sweeping statements about environmental challenges such as climate change and disaster response, agriculture and farmers’ plights, or energy and development, but either they are merely pandering to popular demands with no clear plans, or are doing the opposite of what they supposedly espouse in their campaign speeches,” added Ruth Ylanan, representative of the Urban Poor Alliance (UP ALL).

The groups point as examples: Mar Roxas stating that the country needs to shift to clean, renewable energy but their current administration facilitated the entry of 25 new coal-fired power plants and himself propagating the myth that solar energy is expensive; Rodrigo Duterte acknowledging that the Philippines is at the forefront of climate impacts but going against any bid for the Philippines to phase out coal; Grace Poe pushing for benefits for farmers and agriculture but having no clear position on protecting organic farmers and ensuring safe food; Jejomar Binay not discussing any position or plans regarding any of the environmental issues that were supposed to be discussed at all.

Led by the Sugboanong Nagpakabana sa Kalikupan (Concerned Cebuanos for the Environment), which includes Greenpeace Philippines, the group is part of the bigger Green Thumb Coalition "Pwersa ng 10 Million Boto" that aims to influence candidates' debates and public discussions around key environmental concerns. The coalition earlier sent letters to the Presidential candidates asking about their platforms around issues such as biodiversity, natural resource management, climate justice, mining, energy transformation, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, wastes, and other environmental challenges.

Catherine Ruiz, of Kaabag sa Sugbo and Philippine Miserior Partnership pointed out that “most of our natural resources are now in the hands of corporations raping the environment, and we are looking at elections this year to start correcting this problem. We cannot afford to have a leader that only looks at the bottomline of raking in more money towards their own pockets in preparation for the next elections.”

The groups were hoping for more comprehensive discussions and more substantive reactions to their concerns during the Cebu leg of the debates.

"Cebu has continually pushed for and led the national discourse on environment issues. It would have been great if we finally got to hear concrete plans for our only home discussed in detail here, and not just motherhood statements.  Let’s hope the third and last leg of the debates yields better results," said Sister Virgie Ligaray, RVM, of the Association of Women Religious of Cebu.

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For more information:

Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Philippines, +639498891336

Catherine Ruiz, Kaabag sa Sugbo, Philippine Miserior Partnership, +639107804407

Teody Navea, Sanlakas Cebu, +639273810081

Notes:

Green Thumb Coalition is composed of:
Sugboanong Nagpakabana sa Kalikupan, Association of Religious Women of Cebu, Philippine Misereor Parnership – Central Visayas: Kaabag sa Sugbo, Pagtambayayong Foundation, Lihok Pilipina Foundation, Soil and Water Conservation Foundation, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, A2D Project, Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) – Cebu,ALL POWER, Alliance of SIR Beneficiaries Association (ASIRBA), Recoletos Institute for Disaster and Environmental Management (RIDEM), OSA – Justice and Peace, Association of Women Religious of Cebu (AWROC), Mandaue City College of Social work Department, St. Theresa’s College Social Work Department, USPF Social Work Department, PiglasKabataan Cebu, Alaska Fed, CENVISNET, RCE Cebu, Habagat, Movement for Livable Cebu, Inter Mountaineering Society (IMS), Cebu Mountaineering Alliance (CMA), Cebu Outdoor Adventure Team (COAT), ABS-CBN LingkodKapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI), AksyonKlima, Alternative Law Groups (ALG), AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), AMEN, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP-JPIC), BantayKalikasan Foundation (BK), Bantay Kita, BukluranngManggagawang Pilipino (BMP), BuligVisayas, CBCP-NASSA, Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), Climate Reality, Dakila, Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (ECOJIM),  Ecowaste Coalition, FOCUS, Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Global Anti Incinerator Alliance (GAIA), Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), Green Convergence, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Haribon, Oceana Philippines, PADER, PambansangKoalisyonngKababaihansaKanayunan (PKKK), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Philippine Rural Recontruction Movement (PRRM), Prelate of Infanta Community, PugadLawinPilipinas Inc. (PLPI), Purple Action for Women’s Rights (Lilak), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), SANLAKAS, Save Sierra Madre, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Youth for Rights (Y4R), Save Philippine Seas, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Reef Check Philippines, Balyena.org, Responsible Tourism Philippines, Project Sharklink, SEED4COM and GreensPh Visayas, Bayanihan sa Daan, 350.org, Asian Center for Sustainable Futures & Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Damgo sa Kaugmaon, Legal Alternatives for Women, Fellowship for Organizing Endeavours Inc.