Barely a week after assuming the nation’s highest office, President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to name his secretary who will manage the country’s environment and natural resources.
Acting Secretary of Environment Jim O. Sampulna has already formed a transition team for the next leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and ensured a smooth turnover of programs and projects from the agency to the incoming administration.
Before Marcos Jr.’s anointed DENR leader, various groups are already worried about his leader and Marcos’ marching orders that will define his politics for the next six years.
Fighting Illegal Fishing, Restoring Ocean Abundance
Oceana Philippines, an ocean conservation non-governmental organization and its network of stakeholders, were among the first to urge the new Marcos administration to continue the fight against illegal commercial fishing and to strengthen policies aimed at restoring the abundance of oceans.
The group told the Business Mirror via email on June 22 that the new administration should continue reforms undertaken in the fight against illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters to achieve food and nutrition security and alleviate deepening poverty. in coastal communities around the world. country.
“Our municipal waters can be a major source of protein for the Filipino people. But to do this, the government must continue to protect our fragile marine habitats and the preferential rights of our artisanal fishers to municipal waters” and the licenses of offenders “must be revoked,” added Oceana.
Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos stressed that she wants the next administration to “integrate first and foremost the protection and resilience of our marine and natural ecosystems, and fully implement our laws on fisheries and the environment, in particular the mechanisms for monitoring vessels”.
Eco Group Wish List for BBM
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, and its network of environmental groups have compiled a wish list for Marcos Jr.
Aileen Lucero said number 1 on their list was the release of a directive to accelerate the phase-out of environmentally unacceptable products and packaging with single-use plastic as an immediate priority.
The group’s No. 2 wish is for the Marcos administration to expedite the government’s ratification of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment and stop the import of waste.
“[Marcos Jr. must] develop a legislative program for the environment, with the active participation of rights holders and affected communities and sectors, in order to adequately address the problems of waste and pollution in the context of a climate emergency,” Lucero told the BusinessMirror via Messenger on June 22.
Third, the new administration must also declare the government’s commitment to sustainable and socially just waste policy and programs, and suspend or even reverse the planned shift to waste-to-energy incineration and other “false solutions” to the waste problem, says Lucero.
Lucero added that Marcos should reiterate the government’s commitment to eliminate toxic polychlorinated biphenyls from the Philippines by 2025.
She added that the government should ensure that all other chemical safety targets are met, including but not limited to phasing out mercury-added products in 2020 and phasing out in 2017 and 2019. decorative and industrial paints containing lead. .
Lucero stressed that the new leadership should “stop marking red dots among conservationists and start convergence.”
Climate action, essential justice
When asked what they expected from the new Marcos administration, Lea Guerrero, country director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Philippines, said that as the country is one of the most vulnerable to climate impacts, action and justice must be Marcos Jr.’s top priority.
Guerrero admitted that Marcos Jr. comes to power at a crucial time when the world has only a few years left to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
“In concrete terms, this means that he must prioritize abandoning all nuclear projects,” Guerrero told BusinessMirror via Messenger on June 22.
“Nuclear [power] is the most dangerous and expensive way to generate electricity. This will put Filipino families at risk and will not solve the climate crisis,” she added.
Stop the expansion of fossil fuels
She said halting further expansion of fossil fuels, including fossil gas, means canceling all fossil gas projects under construction and in the pipeline, maintaining the coal moratorium for canceling all projects in the pipeline, as well as abandoning exploration plans.
She added that the Human Rights Commission’s final report on the National Climate Change Inquiry has helped the Philippine government ensure that carbon majors are required to do due diligence on climate change. human rights and are held accountable for failure to remedy human rights abuses resulting from their business operations.
“If he is sincere in his statements on climate action and the promotion of renewable energy, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must abandon all nuclear energy and fossil gas projects,” Guerrero said.
“The key to a healthy environment is a healthy democracy,” she said.
To promote this, she said the new president must support people’s participation in governance, strengthen democratic institutions, and advance and protect justice and human rights.
Prepare for the worst
Meanwhile, a skeptic Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, said they are preparing for the worst from the Marcos administration.
“We know their results are mega-infrastructure, dirty energy and extractive projects to power their edifice complex, and we know they will employ massive misinformation tactics to ‘launder’ over the course of destruction,” Dulce said via Messenger on June 21.
According to Dulce, the network, along with its network of environmental groups, “will spring into action on day one of the new administration with demands to reimpose a moratorium on mining applications and a nationwide ban on mining at open sky”.
Revision of the EIS system
Dulce said they would demand a complete overhaul of the environmental impact reporting system, which he says has been deliberately weakened by DENR bureaucrats to make it easier for big business to implement destructive projects.
“We will demand decisive action on land use conflicts with critical watersheds, such as the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal and the Palawan Critical Environmental Zones Network,” Dulce stressed.
“We will not accept anything less than an accomplished, independent scientist or environmental lawyer who has extensive field and community experience as environmental secretary in Marcos Jr’s cabinet.” , he added.
Dulce explained that the next environment chief should serve as a check and balance to the various big business interests within the Cabinet.
Picture credits: Wikimedia CC BY SA-4.0