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Quezon City, Philippines – Following President Rodrigo Duterte’ fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Greenpeace Philippines Country Director Lea Guerrero said:
“The President’s SONA was disappointing, to say the least. At this time during the pandemic, what the Filipino people, particularly the youth, need is a clear plan for a recovery after this pandemic that will lead us to a better normal. However, we didn’t hear any mention of a coherent policy agenda for recovery and beyond, particularly as it concerns the environment.
“The President said in his speech that protecting the environment is a non-negotiable priority. However, we have yet to see this in actual practice in the past four years, as well as in the commitments he announced during today’s SONA. Only two things stood out: 1) the establishment of the Department of Disaster Recovery – should this be pursued we believe responding proactively to the climate crisis must be the central agenda of this agency; and 2) the mention of localization as part of recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic – however we believe that the revitalization of provinces outside Metro Manila should be focused on promoting small and local businesses rather than promoting special economic zones that do not serve local communities.
“The COVID pandemic is happening against a backdrop of environmental destruction and the climate crisis that has been going on long before this pandemic, and–unless things change for the better–will persist and worsen well into the future. The lack of any concrete plans on addressing climate is reflective of the admin’s narrow environmental agenda, which is still holding up the Boracay clean-up–a drastic military solution devoid of any stakeholder consultation–as a showcase of its environmental programs.
“A coherent post-COVID recovery agenda should have clear plans for future-proofing the country against other crises. Protecting the environment–phasing out coal plants and aiming for 100% RE, weaning the country away from fossil fuel transport, addressing the waste crisis at root through plastic and waste importation bans, among others–leads to positive health outcomes that will make the country resilient against future pandemics.
“Alongside all this, the government needs to realize that protecting the environment also means protecting the rights of people and communities–their right to life, health, livelihood, and the right of present and future generations to a healthy environment and a stable climate. We repeat our calls for the government to put people at the center of planning and decision making, and to promote people participation, instead of silencing criticism and dissent, in order to achieve a “better normal.”
Note to editors:
 Prior to the SONA, the Better Normal Youth Movement, supported by Greenpeace, issued a declaration addressed to the President. Read the full declaration here.
 Aerial shots of SONA protests here.
Angeli Cantillana, Communications Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
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