DAVAO CITY – Think of it like an emissions test. Whose candidate is talking clean, and whose candidate is talking dirty.

Environmental advocates launched on Tuesday, February 2, a voter education campaign to help voters in choosing “eco-friendly” candidates this coming elections.

Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network and one of the campaign’s convenors said the “Green Vote” campaign will research on the track records and hold a survey among the national candidates running for the presidential, vice-presidential, and senatorial positions.

“In the Green Vote campaign, we enjoin the voting public to join us as we examine which of the current crop of electoral candidates have pro-people, pro-environment track records and platforms,” said Bautista.

Bautista said the groups raised 10 major environmental concerns that they will challenge candidates to take on as their platforms, these are:

1.    Large-scale mining

2.    Large-scale logging

3.    Solid waste and air pollution

4.    Free trade and transboundary waste

5.    Genetically modified crops

6.    Land-use conversion

7.    Climate change and extreme weather events

8.    Coal and other forms of destructive energy

9.    Rights of environmental defenders

10.  Corruption in environmental governance

These issues, the environmental advocates said, have aggravated the degraded state of the Philippine environment over the past five years.

The groups will also look into the materials used by the candidates during the campaign period which to them “is also an indicator of their disposition towards environmental issues.”

“Green Vote partners will also serve as election campaign watchdogs on election practices that are harmful to the environment, such as the excessive use of plastic campaign paraphernalia, nailing posters on trees, and receiving campaign funds from environmentally polluting and destructive corporations,” said Bautista.

Jean Lindo, co-chairperson of Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, welcomed the campaign, saying “all political parties and politicians should put the environment in their platforms.”

“We see this coming national and local elections as a venue to place pro-environment and pro-people interests in the government,” she said.

In Southern Mindanao, the large-scale mining projects of Agusan Petroleum & Mineral Corp. (Agpet) in Compostela and Nadecor-St. Augustine Gold & Copper in Pantukan, Compostela Valley have resulted to human rights violations.

In January this year, Bello Tindasan and Jimmy Saipan of Compostela Farmers Association have experienced vilifications and harassments committed by alleged members of the Army who they say, defends the corporation owned by President Benigno Aquino’s uncle, Danding Cojuangco.

On January 27, Teresita Navacilla, a small-scale miner and leader of was shot in Sitio Gumayan, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley province. Navacilla died in the hospital on Saturday, January 30. (davaotoday.com)

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