Environmental groups and other civil society members urged President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to drop his nuclear energy plans and address the country’s other persistent environmental issues, including the harassment and killing of environmental defenders.
In their “green wish list” released on June 27, Greenpeace-Philippines and other mainstays of the country’s environmental movement called on Marcos to prove his commitment to climate justice by reversing his pro-nuclear stance and stopping the expansion of fossil fuels in the country.
The group also called on Marcos to hold carbon major companies accountable for pollution and human rights abuses from their business operations.
“He must also follow through with holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their role in abetting the climate crisis,” said Lea Guerrero, country director of Greenpeace Philippines.
Protecting environmental defenders
Meanwhile, EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero challenged Marcos to stop the red-tagging of the country’s environmental defenders and to ensure safe spaces where people can commit to the “mammoth task of protecting public health and preserving the environment.”
At least 29 environmental defenders were killed in the Philippines in 2020, making the country the worst place in Asia for environmental protectors.
Both Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition pressed Marcos on the importance of protecting human rights in the pursuit of green governance and sustainability, as well as environmental justice.
“The key to a healthy environment is a healthy democracy. To promote this, Marcos Jr. must support people’s participation in governance, strengthen democratic institutions, and advance and protect justice and human rights,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero added that now is the opportune time for Marcos to acknowledge his family’s transgressions during his father’s rule.
EcoWaste Coalition also urged the incoming Marcos administration to implement sustainable and socially just waste management programs, and “suspend, if not reverse, shift to waste-to-energy incineration and other false, quick-fix solutions.”
Lucero said that Marcos must issue an Executive Order to quickly phase out non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging, especially single-use plastics.
Lucero also urged the incoming administration to fast-track the ratification of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment —a treaty banning hazardous waste exports to the Philippines.
One of the most high-profile waste dumping incidents occurred in 2013 when the Bureau of Customs intercepted at least 100 containers of Canadian garbage mistakenly shipped to the Philippines. Contents of the 26 containers were buried in a landfill in Tarlac, while the rest were shipped back to Canada.
The incoming Marcos administration must also strengthen the implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which mandates that no biodegradables should make their way to landfills to avoid increasing global methane emissions, Mother Earth Foundation Chairman Sonia Mendoza said.
“If not BBM, I hope the Commission on Audit will see the blatant violations,” said Rene Pineda, president of Consumer Rights for Safe Food.
Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, said that the government must start imposing sanctions against those found to be illegally fishing in Philippine waters, or violators of Republic Act 10654, a law amending the Philippine Fisheries Code.
“The target is for 100% compliance by commercial fishing vessel operators of the vessel monitoring requirement, with criminal and civil sanctions imposed against violators of our fisheries laws and regulations. The tide will turn if this is complied by all,” Ramos added.
Meanwhile, Grizelda Mayo-Anda, executive director of Environmental Legal Assistance Center, said that the government should end all mining and “other extractive and destructive infrastructure projects in all-natural forests, watersheds and protected areas.”
Marcos previously said that he believes that mining in the Philippines can and should be “environmentally neutral.”