Our Unity for an Eco-Challenge for Change

L to R: Mong Palatino of Bayan-NCR/Nilad, Shen Maglinte of Sibat/Green Action Ph, Meggie Nolasco of CEC, Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan-PNE, Anna Kapunan of BAN Toxics, and Kakay Tolentino of BAI/Scrap the Mining Act Alliance (Photo by K.A.Macalalad/Bulatlat)
L to R: Mong Palatino of Bayan-NCR/Nilad, Shen Maglinte of Sibat/Green Action Ph, Meggie Nolasco of CEC, Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan-PNE, Anna Kapunan of BAN Toxics, and Kakay Tolentino of BAI/Scrap the Mining Act Alliance (Photo by K.A.Macalalad/Bulatlat)

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The following is the 14-point unity statement presented by the newly-formed Eco-Challenge Coalition at a press conference in Quezon City on June 22. It was signed by 32 environmentalist groups from all over the country.

With over 16 million votes garnered in the 2016 elections, president-elect Rodrigo Duterte will have a strong public support for his administration. This support could be used by the new president in changing and instituting meaningful reforms in the government environmental policies and programs.

Based on his record as Davao City mayor, Duterte has decisively implemented local ordinances which favor environmental protection and the health safety of his constituents. Among these are the banning of aerial chemical spraying and large-scale mining operations in Davao City. He had supported several campaigns of indigenous peoples against corporate land-grabs and disaster victims for climate justice.

On the other hand, Duterte failed to present a comprehensive platform on the environment during the presidential campaign. He also holds a track record of supporting the construction of a coal power plant and the establishment of palm oil plantations in Davao City.

We see the transition period between the outgoing and the new Duterte administration as crucial to measure and analyze if the new administration will live up to its premise of instituting meaningful changes towards ecological revival and natural resource conservation in the country.

In this context, we the undersigned have come together to present the Eco-Challenge for Change to president-elect Duterte, an environmental agenda and a call for a comprehensive national environmental program of action. We unite to deliver the following 14 immediate demands that can serve as a starting point for the president-elect to immediately act upon:

1. Order the stoppage of large-scale, illegal and destructive mining in environmentally critical and agricultural areas; immediately suspend all erring mining companies; indemnify victims affected by mining projects; and rescind the Executive Order 79 of the Aquino administration to ‘harmonize’ all relevant policies to the mining liberalization thrust of the Mining Act of 1995;

2. Take action on outstanding toxics issues by banning chemical aerial spraying nationwide, returning the Canadian toxic waste illegally dumped into the Philippines, immediately ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and Minamata Convention on Mercury, and formulate a national policy on electronic waste;

3. Ensure food security and biodiversity through the promotion of sustainable agriculture production practices over conventional chemical farming. Towards this end, ban the propagation of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs in Philippine farms including their use as feeds and processing for food; impose a moratorium on the establishment and expansion of agri-industrial plantations that encourages mono-crop farming and competes with sustainable production for food security; impose a moratorium on conversion of agricultural lands and coastal areas for tourism; and, the implementation of a genuinely re-distributive land reform program;

4. In the context of our recent ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, impose a moratorium on the new construction and expansion of coal-fired power plants, cancel the 25 approved coal power projects in the pipeline, and initiate a national energy policy review, including the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the Renewable Energy Act, and the Philippine Energy Plan, among others, towards a just renewable energy pathway;

5. Hold accountable government officials involved in the criminal neglect and corruption of recent typhoon and El Nino victims; fast-track the Commission on Human Rights investigation on the country’s top climate polluters for human rights violations resulting from catastrophic climate change; deliver immediate, sufficient and appropriate recovery assistance to the victims; and lay down and implement a disaster risk management plan on the incoming La Nina phase;

6. Cancel all reclamation projects operating without an enabling national policy such as the Laguna Lake Expressway Dike Project, Manila Bay reclamation projects, the Cebu reclamation projects, and the Leyte Tide Embankment project;

7. Ensure the formation of the Department of Fisheries with a clear mandate on pro-people, pro-environment utilization of our fisheries;

8. Rescind the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, review and abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement, and stop joint military operations especially in sensitive ecosystems such as Oyster Bay, Palawan and Carabao Island, Cavite;

9. Investigate the land-grabbing and corruption issues in the PHP5.9 billion reforestation program of DENR, and prosecute involved high government officials in DENR;

10. Enforce the implementation of the logging ban especially vis-à-vis rampant illegal logging operations, and review current and proposed forestry policies;

11. Immediately jail and prosecute suspects in killings of environmental activists, particularly the cases of the Dr. Gerry Ortega assassination, Kananga Three massacre, the Lianga killings, the murder of Engr. Delle Salvador, and the Kidapawan carnage, and the release and dropping of charges against illegally-detained and charged environmental activists;

12. Resume peace talks with rebel groups and prioritize discussion on the joint management of our remaining natural resources and the protection of our environment;

13. Appoint progressive environmental leaders that will advance an agenda for meaningful change within the Duterte administration;

14. Initiate a comprehensive review of current and proposed environmental legislations on key issues such as mining, agriculture, fisheries, energy, forestry, reclamation, toxics, pollution, climate change, disasters, and foreign militarism, among others.

Towards this end, we commit to collectively challenge the Duterte administration to address these major environmental concerns, support any concrete, positive solution that the administration pursues, and exert constant vigilance over any anti-people, anti-environment action that may occur under the administration.

Signed June 4, 2016

1. Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience and Development (ACCORD)
2. Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM)
3. AGHAM Youth
4. Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK)
5. Amianan Salakniban (AS)
6. Alliance for Stewardship for Authentic Progress (ASAP)
7. BAN Toxics (BT)
8. Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL Batangas)
9. CARAGA Watch
10. Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC-Phils)
11. Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)
12. Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos)
13. Green Action PH
14. Greenpeace Philippines
15. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) 16. Kalikasan PNE – Southern Tagalog
17. Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan Inc. (KADUAMI)
18. NILAD
19. Oceana Philippines
20. Panalipdan Southern Mindanao Region
21. Panalipdan Mindanao
22. PARTS Mindanao
23. People’s NICHE
24. Pusod Inc.
25. Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (SAPAKKMI Didipio)
26. Save the Valley, Serve the People – Cagayan Valley
27. Scrap the Mining Act Network
28. Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT)
29. University of the Philippines – Saribuhay (Saribuhay)
30. Small Hands
31. SOCSKSARGENDS Agenda
32. 350 Pilipinas
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