Environment Groups Grade Philippines’s Senate Bets from Green to Grey

Apr. 20, 2007

MANILA Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, and Kaisampalad
today announced the results of their 2007 Green Electoral Initiative
(GEI) in a press conference in Quezon City. The GEI, launched last March
5, assessed the greenness of senatorial aspirants based on their
stance and track record on key environmental issues.

Topping the survey was Genuine Opposition (GO) candidate and political
neophyte Sonia Roco, followed by Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, Manny
Villar, and Gringo Honasan. Among the top five greenest senate bets,
two are political newcomers (Roco and Pimintel), and three (Legarda,
Villar, and Honasan) are veteran lawmakers with proven track records on
environmental issues. With the exception of Honasan (Independent), the
rest of the green circle come from the main opposition party.

The others who answered the survey were (in alphabetical order): Edgardo
Angara (GO), Martin Bautista (Ang Kapatiran Party or AKP), Nikki
Coseteng (GO), Mike Defensor (TU), Ping Lacson (GO), Cesar Montano (TU),
Kiko Pangilinan (Independent), Zosimo Paredes (AKP), Tessie Oreta (TU),
John Osmena (GO), Chavit Singson (TU), Adrian Sison (AKP), Tito Sotto
(TU), and Migz Zubiri (TU).

The candidates who responded to the survey revealed their positions on
water pollution and scarcity, solid waste, toxic waste trade and the
Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA),
genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), sustainable agriculture, logging,
mining, climate change, and air pollution. They were also asked to
disclose their environmental track record.

In the assessment of candidate responses, we put a premium not only on
the quality and clarity of their positions on specific issues, but also
their deeds or misdeeds in the environmental field, said Greenpeace
Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez. In general, the
positions of the greenest candidates were clear, well thought-out and
consistent, revealing how much importance these candidates attach to key
environmental trends now shaping our future such as climate change,
waste trade, sustainable agriculture, deforestation, air and water

“The disclosure of the candidates’ eco-platforms will help the Filipino
electorate in making informed choices come May 14. The choices we make
will have serious implications on how the next Senate will see and act
upon the many environmental problems besetting our nation. We hope that
voters will use the survey results in making green choices for the
well-being of Mother Nature,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste

Collectively, the responses of these senatorial bets also revealed
important highlights. All those who responded support the mandatory
labeling of products containing GMOs, and are willing to back
legislation that will shift the Department of Agricultures policy
orientation from chemically-based and synthetic agriculture towards the
development of sustainable and organic agriculture. Majority of the
candidates expressed their opposition to the continued importation of
hazardous waste into the country by supporting the ratification of the
Basel Ban Amendment. Relatedly, majority are also opposed to the toxic
provisions in the JPEPA, signalling that, if elected, they would not be
supporting the said treaty’s ratification unless the controversial
provisions are amended.

All respondents expressed support for the passage of a strong Renewable
Energy Bill and committed to support at least a 5-year moratorium on
commercial logging operations in natural forest areas nationwide.

Sadly, 18 of the total 37 senatorial aspirants did not disclose their
environmental platforms for public scrutiny. The groups rapped the
non-responsive candidates for their seeming indifference and disturbing
complacency on environmental issues and identified them as the greyest
candidates. These are: Joker Arroyo, Jamalul Kiram III, Vicente
Magsaysay, Prospero Pichay, and Ralph Recto from Team Unity; Benigno
Aquino III, Allan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes, and Francis Escudero from
the Genuine Opposition; Joselito Cayetano, Melchor Chavez, Ruben Enciso,
Antonio Estrella, Oliver Lozano, Eduardo Orpilla, and Victor Wood of
KBL; Richard Gomez (Independent); and Felix Cantal of Philippine Green
Republic Party.

A green future requires visionary leadership and an enlightened
electorate. Our current sad ecological state is a resounding commentary
on the failure of vision and political will in our country. By voting
for candidates who are actively espousing a green agenda, we can play
our part in forging a greener future for our country.” added Hernandez.

The Green Electoral Initiative 2007 is the second of its kind; the first
of such projects was launched before the 2004 elections. The questions
in the survey form this year were contributed by the Alyansa Tigil Mina,
Basel Action Network Asia Pacific, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned
Citizens Against Pollution, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without
Harm, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Greens, and the
Philippine NGO Council for Food Security and Fair Trade. davaotoday.com

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