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The Manila Times : Bongbong, Sara bare environment agenda

News & Interviews
27 November 2021

By Javier Joe Ismael | The Manila Times

THE tandem of presidential contender Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio said the environment must be protected to safeguard "the most vulnerable members of Philippine society from the onslaught of natural calamities."

In a statement on Friday, they said the wanton destruction of natural resources makes the country prone to natural and manmade disasters, such as landslides, while flooding triggered by strong typhoons devastates wide areas.

"The Philippines is now experiencing severe environmental degradation — mainly in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, disruption of hydrological systems, overexploitation of fisheries, destruction of coral reefs and extinction of species," the BBM-Sara UniTeam said.

"These problems are accentuated by the pressures of a large, fast-growing and impoverished population, and aggravated by climatic change due to the global 'greenhouse effect'. Moreover, environmental degradation leads to adverse economic consequences that threaten the Philippines's prospects for sustainable development in the years ahead," they said.

The statement noted that in 2005, the Philippines ranked 125th out of 146 countries in the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), which indicates the ability of nations to protect the environment.

The country's forest cover in the 1900s amounted to 70 percent of the total land area and supported 200 to 360 species of trees. Now it is down to 20.5 percent.

Studies have shown that to regenerate enough forest cover to bring it back to the same level as that in the 1900s would require 177 years at the present rate and efficiency of reforestation.

"Nature has its own rights that should be protected. It should be allowed to flourish, reproduce and attain its abundance side by side with human civilization in perfect balance and harmony with our growing communities," the two stressed.

The statement said the UniTeam envisions a "national government that shall uphold environmental protection and promote sustainable development; to ensure that the environment is protected and the country's natural resources are utilized in a sustainable manner. The national government shall also undertake reforestation on a massive scale, enhance forest conservation and manage remaining forests according to strict standards."

The duo said they are also committed to promoting responsible mining by enforcing the key provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942).

They recalled that when Super Typhoon "Yolanda" ("Haiyan") struck the country in November 2013, it killed more than 6,000 people, displaced over 4.1 million and affected over 14.1 million.

The typhoon also destroyed or damaged homes, schools, health centers and other infrastructure.

"This highlighted the acute environmental risks caused by natural calamities such as typhoons that cause immediate harm to human lives, health and the environment," they said. "The country's environmental problems are on their critical levels and very serious."

Also on Friday, the camp of another presidential candidate, Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, announced that the motorcades in the National Capital Region organized by his supporters have been called off because of the heavy traffic build-up during the holiday season.

"We do not want to add to the burden of our motorists who are already complaining of heavy traffic after the alert status in Metro Manila and other areas were de-escalated to Level 2," Domagoso's campaign strategist Lito Banayo said.

"We are aware that with the mad rush for shopping in malls and in places like Divisoria, we can expect monstrous traffic jams. Hence, the cancellation of all motorcades of our supporters beginning today until the first week of January 2022," Banayo said.

The "blue wave" motorcades refer to the official campaign color of the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer and his running mate Dr. Willie Ong and senatorial bets Samira Gutoc, Dr. Carl Balita and lawyer Jopet Sison.

WITH KRISTINA MARALIT