• Senators bat for environment and health



    The sixth annual convention of the International Academy of Medical Specialists, Inc. (IAMSI), held recently focused on environment and health issues. These are what one speaker, Cory Quirino (author broadcaster), termed as our (outer) and (inner) landscapes, respectively of man.

    Dr Leo Olarte, a lawyer and the chairman of the Clean Air Advocates decried that alternating storms and drought brought by climate change had reduced crop yields (threatening food security) and caused the abandonment of some coastal areas (due to rising sea levels). Dr Gil Vicente, the incoming IAMSI president and a rhinologist at St Lukes Hospital pointed out that “30% of the over 100 million Filipinos” today suffer from all kinds of respiratory allergies due to a polluted environment.

    Meantime, Senator Loren Legarda , United Nations climate change champion, was the forum keynote speaker and she practices what she preaches.

    Her Forbes Park residence surrounded by an abundance of trees around is retrofitted to allow natural air and sunlight to come in. In her room, there is no air-conditioning unit; just two electric fans facing the wall. She seldom finds the need to turn on the electric lights for there is enough sunlight for the day. Legarda has tapped her own son – a solar power entrepreneur – to convert her roof to house a renewable energy source from the sun. In front of the house are malunggay trees that are often raided by passers-by. On weekends she hies off to her Tagaytay escape house where she grows a variety of organic vegetables. She does little meat.

    According to Legarda, world’s climate change has been brought about 95% of the time by intense human activity that has produced 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide since 1740. Our forest cover has been severely depleted and 94% of Philippine corals are already compromised.

    “Health Care without Harm” disclosed that hospitals use twice more energy than any building per floor due to their 24-hour power needs and use of intense equipment and transportation for supplies, patients and personnel. The shocking truth is that 42% of them worldwide also do not have the proper waste disposal facilities.

    Addressing physicians in the forum, Legarda suggested that hospitals should use highly energy efficient transportation facilities, LED lighting and reduce air conditioning thermostat by two degrees. She cannot reconcile a tropical country like ours doing a 12 degree aircon atmosphere in a 36 degree outside environment.

    Legarda, a many-time head of Senate committees for climate change and the environment, suggested retrofitting hospital buildings to encompass more natural ventilation, day light from the sun and green roofs. She also spoke of (MRF) material recycling efforts (to include gas) and wastewater treatment facilities.

    Meat in the menu causes most emissions, she said, and mentioned food compost process, organic food source and stop using plastic bottles for delivering water in hospitals as some of the best practices.

    The senator, who also heads the Senate finance committee, noted that there are many provisions in the 2017 national budget that will allow all agencies to do something for the environment.

    Also addressing the convention, the newly elected senator Risa Hontiveros, who won on a pro-Health platform,
    discussed health and environment matters. When her bill is passed into law the penalty for medical institutions that do not provide appropriate medical attention to emergency cases will go up. Likewise, another of her bill bill proposes to increase maternity leave expectant mothers from 60 to 120 days, and 150 days for single mothers.
    Also, at the lowest level of health intervention (barangay) community health workers will be granted increased compensation and further health education. Other Hotiveros’ health bills bills aim to make Philhealth coverage of persons with disability mandatory and the creation of a child health care fund.

    For the environment, Hotiveros has filed the “Alternative Mining Management Bill” to revise the Mining Law of 1995 and impose heavier penalties and suspension of erring mining firms. Hontiveros described mining as an industry that is high cost to community but with low returns.

    Cory Quirino explained that the reason her radio show “Ma Beauty Pa Rin” has been a top-rated show for the past 12 years is that, basically, all “men want to live longer and look good.” “Man just eats too much and moves too little,” she said.

    Quirino pointed out that cancer, heart ailments, and depression are lifestyle diseases that one can control. She recommends daily exercise and a diet that is low on carbohydrates and no sugar in the evening. She mentioned that “stress” is by far the mother of all illnesses.

    Quirino coined the acronym SAD as a look-out to avoid aging too soon: S for stress, sugar, sun (too much), A for anger and alcohol and D for dehydration and depression.

    The forum was an endorsement of the value of blending the eastern and western medicines as contemplated in the TAMA (Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act) of 1995 and RA 7394 law for the protection of the Filipino consumer.

    Both Pople Francis and the US President Barack Obama have recognized the environment (outer landscape) as one of the greatest concerns of the 2lst century. On the other hand, health issues (inner landscape) dominate the lookout of many Filipinos, especially those who straddle the pointed edges of the poverty line.

    Bingo Dejaresco, a former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and political strategist. He is a Life Member of Finex but his views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex.


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