By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
On World Environment Day, progressive environmental groups challenged presumptive president Noynoy Aquino to implement fundamental environmental reforms and actions in his first 100 days in office.
“This would mean concrete steps in implementing positive reforms and reversing the policies that have had a negative impact on our people and environment,” said Clemente Bautista Jr. of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
Kalikasan PNE together with Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMP), Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC Phils.) and Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) identified eight concrete challenges to Aquino in a press conference Friday June 4.
The groups called for an investigation and formation of a commission that will prosecute the environmental crimes of Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
They urged the cancellation of contracts or environment compliance certificate of environmentally destructive and controversial projects such as Rapu-rRapu polymetallic mining project, Didipio gold mining project and San Mateo Landfill Project.
The groups called for a review of the anti-environment policies that were passed and implemented during the Arroyo administration such as the Japanese-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Visiting Forces Agreement and Mining Act of 1995 that, they asserted, have legitimized the sell-out and control of national patrimony to foreign corporations.
The groups challenged Aquino to replace Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Horacio Ramos with an individual who has a proven track record in environmental protection and conservation. Ramos is a mining engineer who allegedly worked in connivance with Norwegian-based Intex Resources to pursue the nickel mining project that was strongly opposed by the people of Mindoro.
They insisted that Aquino should formally communicate to the United States’ government about the people’s demand for responsibility, justice and compensation for the toxic contamination in the former US military bases in the Philippines.
CEC’s Frances Quimpo said there are people who worked for the US military bases who acquired asbestosis caused by toxic waste contamination.
The environmental groups called on Aquino to junk the proposal to re-commission the mothballed and dangerous Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and simultaneously declare a 100-day moratorium on approving mining projects, coal-fired power plant projects and mega-dams.
Indigenous group Kamp urged Aquino to nullify the recent memorandum order issued by the DENR to fast track the issuance of mining contracts and permits from 15 weeks to 10 weeks.
“The Memorandum Order is like marching order to department to adopt “fast food restaurant” efficiency in making sales and profit but the sad part is that they are selling large parcels of indigenous ancestral land together with our country’s national patrimony to the gluttonous large foreign plunderer,” Pia Malayao spokesperson of Kamp said.
Kamp also said that part of the Arroyo government’s National Mining Policy (NMP) is the creation of the so-called Mining Priority Project (MPP) which includes 64 mining sites to be offered to prospective foreign mining investors. There are 39 MMPs out of 64 that can be found in the rich ancestral land of the indigenous peoples all over the country.
Kamp called for the scrapping of the NMP and MPP as well as the cancellation of mining permits issued by the Arroyo administration and the reversal of its policies on liberalization.
Kamp specifically called for the cancellation of Laiban dam, Balug balug dam, and Pulangi River Dam that affect indigenous peoples’ communities.
They urged Aquino to certify as urgent House Bill 5840 or an Act Defining Lawsuits against public participation, prohibiting the filing thereof, providing measures for its dismissal and for other purposes. HB 5840 is a bill that counteracts against Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP).
SLAPP is any legal action filed by big corporations, high public officials or individuals against non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, local residents, community groups, and individuals in an attempt to intimidate the latter into discontinuing their opposition and criticisms against any initiative of the former that adversely affects public interest and welfare. They also said that SLAPPs affect a broad number of sectors, including labor, peasant, women, labor and many more.
Kamp challenged Aquino to render justice to the victims of extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations under the Arroyo administration and to pull out state armed groups and dismantle civilian paramilitary groups that were deployed in the indigenous communities.
The environmental groups are pushing for the implementation of a sound and effective disaster preparedness program and mechanisms towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Kamp said the incoming Aquino administration should also pursue alternative green solution to water and energy crisis and implement genuine reforestation program.
“Accomplishing these will prove that Noynoy Aquino is a serious and genuine environment protector as he claims to be,” he added. (Bulatlat.com)