A coalition of environmental groups has given President Rodrigo Duterte “good ratings” in his first 100 days in office, saying reforms to solve many of the country’s environmental problems have been initiated by the Duterte administration.
Citing “changes have begun” in 10 of the 14 environmental demands that they outlined, the coalition Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, however, challenged the administration to “do better in pursuing immediate, urgent reforms to ensure environmental protection, wise natural resource management and people’s rights and welfare.”
The Duterte administration’s addressing of foreign military presence in the country received a “gold” rating for the President’s consistent and strong policy pronouncements in finally putting an end to military exercises between the United States and the Philippines.
Kalikasan claimed that the war games have led to hazardous-waste dumping and other environmental degradations over the years.
While supporting an international court ruling over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), the President “should look into the long-standing track record of environmental impacts by US military exercises and bases, as well as the EDCA provision that allows the transit of nuclear weapons through agreed locations that serve as de facto US bases, as major reasons for repudiating US militarist policies,” the group said.
Kalikasan also gave Duterte a “silver” rating on the issues of mining, agriculture, the peace talks and environmental governance, citing Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s suspension of 10 big mines; Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano’s two-year land-use conversion freeze; the appointment of pro-people and pro-environment leaders in relevant public offices; and the ground-breaking pace of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The group mentioned challenges, such as “the ‘business-as-usual’ of corporate-controlled genetically modified organism [GMO] crops, the lack of permanent closures of long-established destructive mines, the entrenchment of corrupt officials in the relevant agencies and the seeming attempt of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] to sabotage the peace talks.”
A ‘bronze’ rating was given to the Duterte administration on issues where initial reforms have been overshadowed by negative trends in policy and governance, including toxic issues, disasters and climate change, reclamation, fisheries and policy reforms.
It added that there is also no progress yet in pushing various policy proposals for toxics control reforms.
The coalition, however, gave the Duterte administration “black” marks on the issues of energy, national greening program, logging and killings and trumped-up charges against environmentalists.
Coal power projects continue to expand, corruption and land-grabbing cases under the National Greening Program remain uninvestigated, both legal and illegal timber operations go on and at least five killings of environmental defenders have been recorded under the new administration, according to Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan.
But Eco-Challenge, a broad national coalition of 40 pro-environment and pro-people groups of which Kalikasan is a member, commends the Duterte administration for walking the talk of environmental reforms.
It vowed to engage the government and continue with grassroots organizing “to help the Duterte administration in monitoring environmental concerns, holding environmentally destructive and pollutive projects accountable and supporting programs and policy reforms.”
Meanwhile, Duterte gets a high grade of eight from the Ilonggos of the Visayas region, particularly from the ranks of militants, in his first 100 days in office on Friday.
Bayan Muna also cited the President’s efforts in pushing for real and true peace talks between the government the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Reyland Vergara of Bayan Panay said no past and living Philippine Presidents, except Duterte, got a high public satisfaction rating of 76, his score in the latest Social Weather Stations survey.
Ordinary citizens in Iloilo City gave contrasting remarks on Duterte’s first 100 days office.
Sidewalk vendor Celso Jereos said the President must be supported in his vow to clean the country of illegal drugs and corruption.
Boboy Sombero, a City Hall employee, however, said Duterte failed in his target performance especially in good governance, economy, health, education and social services.