Candidates told to push for environment agenda

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Following the strong earthquake jolted some parts of Luzon, advocacy group Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST) urged political candidates in the upcoming election to push for balanced policies to manage the country's natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

The group particularly challenged the candidates to disclose their agenda on environmental sustainability as the country prepares for the national and local elections on May 13, 2019.

"For the longest time, environmental concerns have only been cursory and novelty platforms for political candidates, and existing regulations are softly enforced. But the issue of environmental protection has now become an urgent discussion worldwide that we cannot afford to be left out,” said PBEST Convenor Carmelo Bayarcal. Bayarcal said balanced policies mean that the stewardship of the environment and economic development should not be in conflict.

“The repercussions are real, and we are starting to feel them. The sooner we and the candidates realize that the environment agenda is fundamentally linked to other 'conventional' election issues such as power, water, food security, and even job creation, the sooner we can make development sustainable," he said.

The group said recent disruptions such as erratic water supply, food inflation due to precarious supply, intermittent power interruptions and natural disaster are all linked to the environment, because they resulted from people's wanton disregard for the protection and care of nature and its inhabitants.

Hours before the earthquake, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged Filipinos to pause and reflect on the most pressing ecological problems facing the world today and think of what they can do to save the planet.