Green Vote 2016 alliance challenges candidates to address major environmental concerns

Amianan Salakniban, the North Luzon network for the environment and human rights joins other pro-environment groups in their vow to highlight the issues of environment this coming 2016 elections .

In the Green Vote 2016 press conference last Tuesday in Quezon City, Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment expressed the need for candidates to put the environment agenda a priority concern in their electoral platforms as most candidates often neglect this issue during the election campaign.

“We want voters to choose eco-friendly candidates. We will expose track records of local and national candidates in regards to the environment protection, analyze the contents of their platforms if it is favorable to our environment or if they promote cleanliness in their campaign methods. We also want to know their position on critical environmental issues in the country,” Clemente said.

Amianan Salakniban spokesperson Fernando Mangili in a brief discussion on the environmental situation of North Luzon said: “In North Luzon, existing large scale mines continue to destroy the environment and impact communities negatively especially during disasters. Mining applications continue to increase yearly as well. Our demand is for candidates to support our call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 that promotes the wholesale of our natural resources to foreign corporations once they gain their elective positions,” Mangili said.

Defend Ilocos coordinator Sherwin de Vera stressed that politicians vying for positions should make the tobacco process more eco-friendly and less dependent on cutting trees as he shared the recent conversion of farmlands into eucalyptus plantation in Ilocos to become a source of timber for tobacco processing.

“If the 5 billion tobacco excise tax fund will be properly distributed to the farmers, this may help them procure solar powered driers that are more environment-friendly therefore decreasing the need to cut more trees as the current tobacco processing mostly depend on firewood,” De Vera said.

The Green Vote 2016 alliance will challenge candidates to address nine major environmental concerns. These are the following;

1. Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and Mining Executive Order 79. Impose a moratorium on large-scale mining projects. Enact a new mining policy that will ensure the wise utilization of our mineral resources and the safeguarding of our environment and communities.

2. Ensure a ban on large-scale, commercial logging until sufficient rainforest cover for the country has been recovered. Immediately cancel all commercial logging permits such as Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMA).Investigate the corruption in the National Greening Program which leads to land grabbing and conversion of forest areas.

3. Junk the legislation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement which allows the importation and junking of toxic and hazardous wastes. Reject other impending free-trade agreements that promote the plunder of natural resources and pollution of environment, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Return the dumped toxic waste from Canada.

4. Uphold the Supreme Court decision banning the trial of bio-transgenic agricultural crops in the country. Impose a moratorium on the introduction and stop the commercialization of genetically-modified food and agricultural crops until the adoption of a robust regulatory regime where these technologies can be proven safe and healthy.

5. Ban the land-use conversion of agricultural lands and other critical ecosystems like mangrove areas, especially into agri-industrial and aquaculture plantations, and reclamation projects. The Biofuel Act of 2007, which promotes the establishment of massive biofuel plantation and production in the country, should be reversed.

6. Legislate and enforce policies that will genuinely address the crisis of climate change. Ensure sufficient aid and reparations, community-based disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, and social justice and human rights for climate refugees such as the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda and Lando.

7. Declare a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants, mega dams, and other dirty and destructive energy sources. Repeal the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. Promote people-controlled, community-based, renewable energy projects.

8. Exact justice for victims of extrajudicial and political killings and other rights violations against environmental advocates. Cancel militarization policies inextricably linked to extractive and pollutative industries such as Oplan Bayanihan.

9. Remove Sec. Ramon Paje as Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and hold him accountable for his environmental crimes.

The Green Vote alliance will also serve as a watchdog on the conduct of the electoral exercises. They will research and survey about the environmental platforms and track records of presidential, senatorial, and party-list candidates, and raise awareness regarding its results through a ‘fame or shame’ campaign.
Candidates who harm the environment during the campaign period such as those who use excessive plastic campaign materials, nail posters on trees and receive campaign funds from environmentally destructive and greedy corporations will also be presented for public scrutiny.#