Environmentalists endorse’green champs’ in May polls

Environmental advocates are hoping that candidates in the 2019 midterm elections will include environmental concerns in their political agenda.

Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) acting executive director Chinkie Peliño-Golle said that pro-environment candidates whom they called “green champions” ought to be elected this May 14.

“For how many years, we have been electing officials who do not prioritize the environment in their policy making,” Golle said in a phone interview.

She said that candidates who can address social issues, such as poverty, are traditionally popular among voters since as they carry the issues that directly affect them.

Golle, however, said that majority of the electorate are now considering “green champions” due to the threats of climate change like to flash foods, and landslides.

Greenpeace, an environmental non-government organization (NGO), and the Social Weather Stations (SWS), conducted a 2018 survey, showing that Filipinos will be voting for candidates who will support pro-environment policies.

Survey shows that 73 percent of Filipinos said they will support candidates who will ban establishments from using single-use plastic across the country, while 82 percent for candidates who will advocate for strict implementation of laws on waste management. Also, 72 percent would probably vote for a candidate who will be proactive in the usage non-biodegradable plastic bags in the whole country.

Golle also said they should also “walk the talk”, once elected this May 13.

She said that they are going to endorse Davao re-electionist councilors who were very active in crafting local ordinances for the welfare of environment.

However, Golle admitted that they have not seen any “green champions” in the national senatorial line-ups.

Celine Murillo, travel writer and founder of Ecoheroes, an ecofriendly store in Mandaluyong, also agreed that “no big names” have been prioritizing environmental issues in their agenda.

The Angono, Rizal-born environmentalist said that the country needs more “green-minded” policy makers as they are keen in addressing these concerns that would have an economic implication in the future.

“I think voting for a ‘green’ candidate is similar to investing for our children’s future. Considering advocates of environmental protection and conservation would be a step in ensuring that the next generation would still enjoy a ‘livable’ Philippines,” Murillo said in an online interview.

Aside from solid waste management and reduction of plastic consumption, she said that wildlife conservation should also be a priority.

“The endangered Tamaraw needs protecting and yet this year, the Tamaraw Conservation Program has had its budget cut,” Murillo said.

Tamaraw, which can only be found in the Philippines, is considered endangered, according to a 2000 study from International Union for Conservation of Nature.As for Aezer Cajegas, wastewater treatment specialist and a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) awardee inventor, electionist should have a strong stand against mining.

Cajegas said that mining is one of the environmental issues that still needs to be resolved.“I don’t know why DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) can’t shut them down. They make tons of money, and yet they (mining companies) cannot invest for a waste water treatment plant, he said.

President Duterte is also against destructive mining operations despite its contribution of 6.4 percent in the gross domestic product (GDP).