What envi groups want to hear from Marcos’ 1st SONA

July 25, 2022 - 12:17 PM
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This July 22, 2022 photo shows climate-vulnerable communities demanding for climate justice ahead of the first State of the Nation Address of Presdent Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Quezon Memorial Circle. (Jilson Tiu via Greenpeace Philippines)

Green organizations urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to take action on environmental issues in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) later today, July 25. 

Protect environment defenders 

Youth environment group Saribuhay urged the president to protect the rights of land and Filipino environment defenders. 

The Philippines is among the deadliest countries for land and environmental defenders in the Asian continent. In 2021, the non-governmental organization Global Witness reported that 29 people were killed for attempting to halt mining, logging, and dam projects.

In its youth environmental electoral agenda, Saribuhay reiterated the need to provide scout rangers and mountain protection volunteers with health benefits and livable wages. 

Saribuhay also called on the government to craft policies that support frontline environmental defenders, and ensure appropriate, accessible and sufficient avenues for consultation. 

Defending environment activists, the group added, is tied to defending their rights to self-determination and ancestral domain. The environmental group said the protection of ancestral lands should be supported instead of land use conversion projects resulting in environmental destruction and displacement. 

Stop open-pit mining

Kalikasan People’s Network called on the Marcos administration to halt open-pit mining operations as well as large-scale reclamation projects in a bid to stop habitat destruction. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources lifted the four-year-old ban on open-pit mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores in the country in December 2021.

READ: Philippines removes last hurdle for stalled Tampakan copper-gold project

In the People’s Summit last July 16, other environmental organizations also demanded that the Marcos presidency should “ensure environmental protection, rehabilitation and balanced use of the country’s natural wealth.”

Shift to renewable energy 

Environmental group Greenpeace Philippines has long advocated for the Philippines to shift to renewable energy from fossil gas, thumbing down recent efforts to adopt nuclear energy. 

“Current and future generations will be left to face the dangerous risks of harnessing nuclear energy and fossil gas, on top of the impacts of the climate crisis,” the group said. 

Marcos earlier said that he is open to reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which would cost roughly $2.3 billion, in the hopes of lowering electricity rates. 

“The Marcos Jr. administration must show that it’s really serious about protecting Filipinos and championing climate justice by dropping planned nuclear and fossil gas projects and pursuing a transformative energy policy grounded on clean, safe, and accessible renewable energy,” Greenpeace Philippines added.

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