“Senator Miriam Santiago is the breakaway ‘greenest’ candidate…Administration bet Mar Roxas is by far the ‘meanest’.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Environmentalist groups said not one presidential candidate measured up to the “green” standard based on their track records and platforms. But the Aquino administration’s presidential bet Mar Roxas fared the worst.
In a press conference April 18, environmentalists under the Green Vote Campaign 2016 gave “failing grades” to Roxas and the United National Alliance (UNA) frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The three other candidates, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte received “passing grades.”
“While some candidates have progressive records and stands on particular environmental issues, not one among them offered a comprehensive environmental platform to reverse environmental degradation and plunder across all ecosystems and natural resources,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the conveners of Green Vote.
“Sen. Miriam Santiago is the breakaway ‘greenest’ candidate, followed by Sen. Grace Poe and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Administration bet Mar Roxas, meanwhile, is by far the ‘meanest’,” Bautista said.
The groups based their scores on the candidates’ track records and stand on six environmental issues: large-scale mining, coal power, killings of environmentalists, genetically-modified organisms (GMO), climate change and disasters, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
“Not one among them plans to reverse the anti-people and anti-environment policies such as the Mining Act and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act,” Bautista lamented.
The groups said Roxas has a “negative record,” as he pursued the Aquino administration’s “environmentally-destructive policies and programs” as Interior secretary. They cited the proliferation of illegal black sand mining projects, and the support he is getting from big mining companies. They also cited government’s failure in responding to recent natural disasters.
“Roxas and the Aquino administration failed to prepare and respond to the increasing number and severity of typhoon disasters like Typhoons Yolanda and Pablo,” said Bautista.
The groups lauded Santiago for her stand on Edca, her effort to regulate GMOs, her proposed bills and resolutions on climate change mitigation, and investigation on the killings of environmentalists.
Poe, meanwhile, had a “consistent stand” in her call for a shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy.
On destructive, large-scale mining, only Duterte got a passing mark, because of his ban on mining in Davao City. The group, however said Duterte gives “mixed rhetoric” on large-scale mining, as he only banned new operations, but did not stop those which already have permits.
Green Vote had called for zero votes for “pro-mining candidates,” including Roxas and Binay, and senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez. They clarified that they do not endorse any candidate.
An assessment on how vice presidential candidates measure up to “green” standards had been released by the Envi-Vote Alliance, with Senator Gregorio Honasan as “greenest” based on his pronouncements.
The Green Vote Campaign said environmental advocacy goes beyond the elections.
“While there is a chance to vote an environmental leader to Malacanang, what we need is to have a government that will ensure a balanced and healthful ecology. This will only be possible if the people remain vigilant and ‘eco-active’ way beyond the elections,” Bautista said.