Groups demand poll bets' environmental platforms
By Catherine J. Teves


MANILA, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- Various environment watchdogs are challenging all candidates in next year's national and local elections to bare their respective environmental platforms.

Ecowaste Coalition president and Mother Earth Foundationchairperson Sonia Mendoza noted baring such platforms will help voters assess the candidates' plans for protecting and managing natural resources nationwide.

"We need leaders who'll champion enforcement of the country's environmental laws," she said.

She reiterated urgency for intensifying such laws' enforcement, noting the country is rich in natural resources but these continue reeling from human activities that degrade the environment and drive climate change.

Among those activities are garbage-dumping, unabated and improper land development, over-extraction of natural resources and fossil fuel-burning.

"Let's leave our children with a living planet instead," Mendoza said.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) already set Monday (Oct. 12) to Friday (Oct. 16) this year as period for filing certificates of candidacy (COCs) for all elective positions at stake in the May 9, 2016 nationwide polls.

Comelec also designated Feb. 9 to May 7 next year as campaign period for the 2016 presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial and party list candidates.

March 25 to May 7 next year is the campaign period for candidates seeking seats in the House of Representatives as well as for elective regional, provincial, city municipal officials, Comelec continued.

An estimated 54 million voters are expected to cast their ballots during next year's automated polls, noted Comelec.

This week, several environment watchdogs announced staging Monday, beginning 7 a.m., a prayer rally, ritual and live cultural performances, all aimed at enlightening poll candidates on the Philippine environment's degradation and reforms for addressing this matter.

Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., Alyansa Tigil Mina,Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples and communities affected by environmental degradation target carrying out such activities in front of Comelec's central office in Manila as the first day for filing COCs unfolds.

Such groups plan calling on all poll bets to commit upholding an agenda for environmental and human rights.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the State "shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) continues urging LGU officials nationwide to help protect such right by increasingly implementing solid waste management (SWM) in respective areas of jurisdiction, noting persistent garbage-dumping is derailing efforts to clean up the country's water bodies.

Communities must practice SWM as it'll be difficult to build upon gains of previous water clean-up activities if people continue merely dumping garbage into water bodies, noted EMB.

RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) defines SWM as "the discipline associated with control of generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing and disposal of solid wastes in a manner that is in accord with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics and other environmental considerations and that is also responsive to public attitudes."

Solid waste is "all discarded household, commercial waste, non-hazardous institutional and industrial waste, street sweepings, construction debris, agricultural waste, and other non-hazardous/non-toxic solid waste," RA 9003 also notes.

Provinces, cities and municipalities nationwide are required under RA 9003 to prepare and implement respective 10-year SWM plans.

Earlier, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and former senator Joey Lina cited need to make the environment an election issue.

Paje urged the public to scrutinize election candidates' respective track records to see how they fared in addressing air pollution and other environmental problems.

Addressing such problems help uphold people's right to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology, he noted.

At the first Clean Air and Climate Change Congress in Metro Manila this July, Lina reminded voters to seek candidates who'll truly offer their talent and capability to serve the nation and fight air pollution.

He urged voters to exercise caution in electing local and national officials, warning poll victory of "incompetent and heartless" ones won't augur well for the environment.

Quality of leaders will affect how well government will be able to address environmental problems, he added.(PNA)


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