The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) over the weekend launched a massive advocacy campaign aimed at raising public awareness on two environmental challenges hounding the country—climate change and the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, together with Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), led the launching of the twin campaigns at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) office in Quezon City.
For one, the Climate Change Advocacy Campaign aims to dispel public apathy towards climate change through strategic communication and social mobilization.
The “Manila BAYanihan Para sa Kalinisan” campaign, meanwhile, seeks to harmonize all existing programs for the rehabilitation of one of the country’s most important bodies of water.
Paje expressed hope that with the renewed and intensified campaign of the government, people would come to realize that “everyone is accountable” for the impacts of climate change and the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
“Everyone is accountable for the phenomenon of climate change. All of us will be accountable and each of us can do something to help. The same goes for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” Paje said.
He said the twin campaign was aimed at “breaking through public apathy on the two issues and make people do something for the environment.”
“The antidote to our environmental problems is a change in attitude. Nagbabago na ang panahon. Panahon na para magbago [The times have changed. It is time to change],” Paje said, quoting the overall theme of the awareness campaigns.
To make the campaign more popular and recognizable to the public, the organizers came up with catchwords like KALIgKASAN—a play on the words kaligtasan (safety) and kalikasan (environment)—and Punoan—a play on the words puno (tree) and punuan (to fill).
KALIgKASAN involves the development of strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and reduce disaster risk on both people and the environment. It uses social media to disseminate information to the public.
Punoan, on the other hand, supports the implementation of the National Greening Program, the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that seeks to fill 1.5 million hectares of land with trees by 2016.
The DENR also announced that a mobile application called “Alerto Pinoy” would soon be made available to the public. The application will provide information and data, such as geohazard maps, alert warnings, and advisories, which are relevant during calamities and disasters.
The DENR and PIA also formalized their partnership with media network GMA 7, which agreed to air the infomercials for the campaign.
Also during the event, the DENR’s Manila Bay Coordinating Office presented a 30-second infomercial on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. was designated as chairperson of the advisory committee tasked to verify compliance reports of government agencies mentioned in the high court’s landmark decision on the Manila Bay clean up.
In 2008, the high tribunal issued a writ of mandamus directing some 11 government agencies, led by the DENR, to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay and restore its waters to a condition that is safe for recreational activities.
Paje said that although a lot of people are already aware of climate change and the condition of the Manila Bay, the main objective of the campaign is to translate such awareness into action by “improving people’s perception of their role in environmental protection.”
“The environment is not the government’s monopoly. Every citizen should see himself as part of a solution to environmental problems,” he stressed.