Thursday, April 22, 2010

How green is your presidential candidate?


Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition released yesterday, as promised, the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey final results which were based on the presidential candidates’ position on environmental issues.
Of all the many urgent advocacies worthy of presidential attention, it was the environmental advocacy that was able to compel the presidential bets to come out openly with their platforms. The GEI survey enabled the presidential bets to articulate their green agenda. The candidates did so not during debates, forums or miting de abanse, not through 30-second sound bites, but on paper, with their signatures affixed.
So how did they fare?

Noted environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, Senators Jamby Madrigal and Richard Gordon emerge the “greenest,” with the latter two having an almost equal ranking. Trailing them are evangelist Eddie Villanueva, Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manny Villar and councilor JC de los Reyes. Former President Joseph Estrada and former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro did not respond to the survey. Their scores: Perlas (94.2), Madrigal (78.68), Gordon (78.45), Villanueva (70.87), Aquino (64.94), Villar (62.59), De los Reyes (38.31), Estrada (0), Teodoro (0).

Issues covered were climate change, solid waste, chemical pollution and consumer safety, sustainable agriculture and genetically engineered crops, water, forests, nuclear power and mining. Even problems such as billboards from hell were also tackled.

The presidential bets also had to present their environmental track record. Plus their answers to two important questions: 1) If elected president, what would be your first environmental act during your first 100 days in office? 2) What qualities would you want your environment secretary to have?

Check out their complete individual responses as well as scores and ranking for particular issues at They are in Cyberspace for all to read and evaluate.

I must say that more important than the rankings and scores is the quality of the individual responses. A high overall ranking or score should not be taken as an endorsement from the GEI team. Voters should use the survey results in forming their judgment of candidates or, in the future, use them to remind the winning candidate of his/her original stand or promise.

Some highlights of the 2010 GEI survey:

1. All favor the phaseout of coal power and support the increasing share of renewable energy (geothermal, wind, solar, etc.) in the country’s energy mix.

2. All support the full-scale implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, or RA 9003, as well as a ban on single-use plastic bags.

3. Perlas, de los Reyes, Villanueva, Madrigal and Gordon support a ban on field trials and the commercialization of genetically engineered crops. Villar and Aquino propose more studies.

4. All are against the importation of genetically engineered food crops into the country.

5. All support the position of the Department of Health to stop the aerial spraying of agro-chemicals in banana plantations.

6. All are for the establishment of national targets to progressively reduce the amount of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture.

7. All are in favor of amending the Clean Water Act to incorporate a framework of Zero Discharge of hazardous chemicals from factories and domestic sources.

8. All support the imposition of a total commercial log ban in the remaining forest areas.

9. With the exception of Villar, all respondents are against the proposed re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Perlas, Madrigal, Villanueva, de los Reyes are clearly opposed to nuclear power as an option, while Villar, Gordon and Aquino see the need for more studies based on the experience of other countries and the opinion of experts.

10. All express support for an Alternative Mining Code which seeks to revise the current framework of the mining industry.

11. Most candidates oppose the proliferation of huge billboards (Perlas, Delos Reyes, Madrigal, Gordon, Aquino), and all express the need to regulate them.

12. All see anti-smoke belching as a priority, with Perlas committing to solve the problem during his first 100 days, and Gordon vowing to go out to the streets with emission tester in hand and stop violators himself.

I must make a disclosure. Being one of the evaluators, I have been privy to the GEI survey since the beginning. The other evaluators are noted environmental lawyer and TOYM awardee Ipat Luna; GAIA co-coordinator and former EcoWaste Coalition president Manny Calonzo; NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission and EcoWaste member Eileen Sison; and 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Time magazine hero for the environment and director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Von Hernandez.
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Environmentally incorrect campaign ad: One presidential candidate’s latest TV ad likens an evil path to an ahas (snake). It shows a winding road that looks like the body of a serpent. Whoever created that ad has not heard of creation spirituality or the web of life which is inclusive of all creatures. Or does not know the meaning of speciesist and speciesism (“human intolerance or discrimination on the basis of species”). Humans with evil attributes should not be likened to innocent creatures such as crabs, snakes, crocodiles, sharks and vultures that serve a good purpose on this earth. That is so yesterday! Don’t say loan shark, say usurer. Don’t give scheming politicians animal names. Call them names.