Miriam ‘greenest,’ Mar ‘meanest’ for environmentalists
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2016 - 10:00am

VIGAN CITY, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago got the top mark while Liberal Party bet Manuel Roxas II got zero in the assessment of track records of candidates on environmental protection.

Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said environmental activists have launched the Green Vote 2016 drive to determine the environmental policy of the presidential bets.

He said Santiago was determined to be the “greenest” candidate followed by Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Roxas was dubbed as the “meanest” aspirant with regard to environmental concerns, said Bautista, one of the conveners of Green Vote.

The Green Vote scored the candidates with a report based on all the candidates’ environmental platform and track records regarding large-scale mining, coal power, killings of environmentalists, genetically modified organisms (GMO), climate change and disasters, and the Phl-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Green Vote conveners, however, clarified that their group does not endorse any candidate.

“We note how Sen. Santiago rallied her fellow senators against the unconstitutionality of the EDCA. She is also the lone bet who worked on GMO regulations, and passed numerous Senate bills and resolutions to address climate change impacts and investigate the killings of environmentalists,” said Gil Catalan of youth environmental group UP Saribuhay, a co-convenor of Green Vote.

Poe’s consistent stand calling for a shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy also earned accolades, while Duterte was the lone candidate who had opposed large-scale mining through a prohibition order in Davao City, although his rhetoric on large-scale mining is mixed.

Like a referendum by environmentalists on the performance of the outgoing administration of President Aquino, the groups gave Roxas a failing mark.

“During his stint as the secretary of DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and among the leading apologists of the so-called Daang Matuwid program, Roxas demonstrated a negative record of pursuing environmentally destructive policies and programs of the Aquino administration,” Bautista explained. 

Illegal small-scale mining operations such as the numerous black sand mining projects proliferated during Roxas’ term as DILG secretary, he added.   

He said Roxas had previous interests in large-scale mining and big miners are supporting his presidential candidacy.

“Roxas and the Aquino administration failed to prepare and respond to the increasing number and severity of typhoon disasters like Yolanda and Pablo. Even at the last moment, Roxas demonstrated his criminal neglect of disaster victims by being the lone candidate who did not condemn the violent dispersal and shooting inflicted by police on El Niño-affected farmers in Kidapawan,” said Frances Quimpo, executive director of the Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines.

Meanwhile, Santiago’s runningmate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. thanked yesterday the former martial law activists who have expressed support for his candidacy.

“I have heard that they (former anti-Marcos activists) came out to express their support for me despite the barrage of negative criticisms that are being thrown my way throughout this campaign trail. I appreciate their words and their confidence in my capabilities,” he said.

In a forum last Saturday, Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos, religious charismatic leader Butch Belgica, labor leader Terry Tuazon and Coconut Federation (Cocofed) chairman Efren Villaseñor appealed to the public to move on from the past and focus on the future of the country.

Abalos appealed to the public for objectivity and said that voters should filter out what they hear about the Marcoses. – With Perseus Echeminada, Rhodina Villanueva, Rainier Allan Ronda, Ramon Lazaro

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