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Environmentalists to Noy: Be a 'Green President'

A diver at the Manila Ocean Park highlights the need to protect the oceans as part of the observance of World Environment Day yesterday. Edd Gumban

BAGUIO CITY , Philippines  – Philippine environmental groups have challenged President-apparent Benigno Aquino III to take a tougher stand in protecting the environment and be a truly “Green President,” as World Environment Day was observed yesterday.

“Now that Noynoy Aquino is set to be proclaimed as the new president, the question that comes up is whether he will fulfill his promise to bring about a government different and opposed to the previous Arroyo administration,” said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator for Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment.

“This would mean taking concrete steps in implementing positive reforms and reversing the policies that negatively impacted our people and environment,” he said.

He said Aquino should “reveal if he is indeed sincere in the protection and conservation of (the) environment and national patrimony.”

Kalikasan PNE and other environment groups also asked Aquino to initiate an investigation of the environmental crimes of the Arroyo administration; cancel the contracts or environment compliance certificates of environmentally destructive and controversial projects such as the Rapu-Rapu polymetallic mining project, Didipio gold mining project and San Mateo landfill project; and review anti-environment policies – such as the Japanese-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement and Mining Act of 1995 – that allegedly legitimize the foreign control of national patrimony.

“This will be a big step in reversing the policies that liberalize and privatize the country’s natural resources and replace them with laws that reclaim our patrimony and lead to ecological conservation,” he said.  

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The environmental groups also wanted Aquino to replace Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Horacio Ramos for his alleged “pro-corporate” policies.  – With Rhodina Villanueva

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