Environment group to Duterte: Build, Build, Build should spare environment from degradation

Jul. 23, 2017

Chinkie Peliño-Golle (Earl O. Condeza/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An environment group here said the acceleration of infrastructure development should not result to further damage to the environment.

Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) Executive Director Chinkie Peliño-Golle said “building more and more infrastructure” shouldn’t come at the expense of natural resources which people need along with development.

“We cannot afford to lose more of our watersheds and agricultural lands for infrastructure development, as we have already lost many to mining. We know this threatens our food and water security, and enhances the effects of disasters and climate change,” she said.

The Duterte administration launched the “Build, Build, Build” campaign in its bid to roll out big-ticket projects in November last year.

Thirty six big-ticket infrastructure projects under the campaign will include three projects in Mindanao. These are the airports expansion in Davao City and Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental, and the 105-kilometer first phase of the Mindanao Railway project in Tagum in Davao del Norte province, Davao City, and Digos in Davao del Sur.

The group said a year after President Rodrigo Duterte took office, the country continues to suffer irreversible damage of natural resources due to poor enforcement of environmental laws and land use policies.

The group also said Duterte should lead government agencies in replicating the city’s best practices in environment protection.

“As Davao City continues to work on being a good model in protecting and sustainably managing its natural resources, we hope that our efforts will also be replicated in other parts of the country,” Peliño-Golle said.

“Davao City demonstrates its value for water and natural resources
​​through the passage and implementation of policies such as the Watershed Code, Mining-Free Ordinance, Ban Aerial Spray, and Rainwater Harvesting which prioritize the people’s long-term needsmore than short-term economic profits offered by big businesses. Many of these landmark ordinances that benefited the environment were passed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s term as mayor of the city,” she said.

She also said there is a need for strict implementation of land use policies to ensure sustainable urban development.

“This means the need to integrate environmental laws, disaster risk reduction and management, climate change mitigation and adaptation in land use management and infrastructure development,” she added.

Communities from Macambol, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley who attended the Civil Society Organization Interfacing with DENR last June and the recent Pakighinabi hosted by Ateneo de Davao University have expressed their dismay and asked for help as miningoperations resumed in their areas right after the Commission on Appointments rejected Gina Lopez as Environment Secretary.

“(We believe) that when Gina Lopez was not confirmed, the country was robbed of a leader who could have ensured that the President has the environment agenda among his development priorities for the country,” she said.

Recently, Duterte announced he will meet with representatives of the mining sector , including Lopez and leftist groups, for a consultation for a new law on mining.

“We have to go into — not even a compromise — we have to rearrange everything here. I will call all the mining people and Gina Lopez and company, and the militants on the other side,” he said.

“Good mining means no people are really in pain. So that should be the equation. Good mining equals there is no agony on the people. Otherwise, I will have to think about something,” he told the business sector during the Davao Investment Conference hear Friday. (davaotoday.com)

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