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Umbrella NGO to push environment as top issue for candidates

A coalition of non-government organizations is pushing for both local and national candidates to prioritize the environment as their top campaign issue in a bid to divert the usual personality-based tradition as a basis for election.

Dubbed the “Green Thumb Coalition” composed of around 40 NGOs, the group feels it is time that the environment be given top priority instead of the usual issues which majority of the candidates share such as corruption, poverty, jobs, and education.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, secretary general of Sanlakas, declared in a press gathering that they will embark on green sorties in 15 areas nationwide to spread awareness among the voters and generate support for the environment.

“We have noticed that very few candidates have prioritized the environment as their main concern. Now they have to change their stand in order to win more votes. We now have 37 candidates in Luzon who have committed to our group and more are coming in,” he stated.

Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, said that Cebu leads the way to shake up politics and serve as the microcosm of the environmental situation in the Philippines.

“This is a covenant signing, a continuing movement with strong advocacies. We will publish a scorecard on paper and social media where the candidates are mandated to protect the environment. This is to ensure their promises won’t be forgotten if they do get elected. More importantly, citizens should also do their share and not wait for government to act,” she affirmed.

Vince Cinches, president of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, stated that an environmental constituency has been created in the Senate and the House of Representatives to keep watch on the lawmakers to ensure the environment is safeguarded.

“We are seeking the commitment of elective government officials at every level such as the Senate, town halls, governorships, etc. We want the transition of the Philippines to sustainable development with the environment at the forefront,” he said.

Mark Canton, spokesperson of the Movement for Liveable Cebu (MLC), agreed with the group, reiterating the need for the electorate to look at issues and movements and not personalities.

“The environment is the triple bottomline. We need to change the mindset of the people on heritage, and not heritage versus development. Development has neglected the preservation of trees,” he stated.

Green Thumb coalition raises the debate on nine key environmental issues at the national level. These include biodiversity and ecosystem integrity; natural resource and land use management and governance; human rights and integrity of creation, climate, justice, mining, extractives and mineral resource management; energy transformation and democracy; sustainable food sovereignty; people-centered sustainable development and waste management.