Home News Faith-based groups demand ‘green agenda’ from candidates in Philippine polls

Faith-based groups demand ‘green agenda’ from candidates in Philippine polls

A network of Catholic schools, meanwhile, chided political candidates who use disinformation on social media in an attempt to win the elections

Church and civil society organizations called on those running in this year’s Philippine national elections to present their “environmental agenda” and “greener economic policies.”

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice chairperson of Caritas Philippines, said politicians “can no longer pretend that we still have plenty of time to dilly-dally in changing our polluting ways of life.”

In an online media briefing on February 7, various groups took turns in calling for “balanced, just, inclusive, and ecologically-sound approaches to achieving prosperity, planetary, and people’s health.”

Bishop Alminaza said the country cannot “hide behind excuses of economic development to justify environmental destruction and sacrifice the well-being of communities and ecosystems.”

The prelate said it is high time for politicians to make the climate crisis and the degradation of the environment “the front and center issues” of the May elections.

He said the call for a people-centered leadership that responds to the “cry of the Earth” is “a long and arduous journey” that will not end on the election day.

“[It will] continue as our unity in these demands remain critical in sustaining action for our environment and people,” said the bishop.

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Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said the elections must provide Filipinos an “opportunity to install leaders” who will pursue “holistic and sustainable solutions, not band-aid schemes.”

Yolanda Esguerra of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. said candidates must also champion the recognition of the rights of nature.

“We need to transition to a more organic and circular economic system,” she said, adding that “only when we can change our relationship with nature can we effect real change in social systems.”

Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato Si Philippines said the demand for a greener agenda “will settle for no less than what is just, compassionate, and economic growth to prioritize the reparation of the climate impacts and development of the marginalized communities.”

In a joint statement, the faith-based and civil society groups recommended 20 policies that include “strategic climate action, transition to renewable energy and phaseout of coal by 2030.”

They also called for the protection of the territory and marine ecosystem in the West Philippine Sea, and “a shift away from extractivist economy.”

“These demand a pursuit on a just transition to an economy dominated by more sustainable technologies and cultures, such as renewable energy, alternatives to plastics, and a zero-waste lifestyle,” read the statement.

The groups also urged candidates to include the declaration of climate emergency in their agenda.

A demonstrator holds a poster calling for a stop to ‘historical revisionism’ in the 2022 elections during a protest march in November 2021. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Catholic schools reject ‘historical revisionism’

A network of Catholic schools in the country chided political candidates who use disinformation on social media in an attempt to win the May elections.

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines did not identify any politician by name but it criticized the “brazen” efforts to portray the martial law years as the country’s glory days.

“We vehemently reject the candidates who run under this platform of lies and historical distortion,” CEAP said.

“We value truth, and thus we deplore the massive disinformation that is deceiving our people, especially our youth, in a way that is unparalleled in our history,” it said.

CEAP made the pronouncement in a statement titled, “A call to moral courage in the 2022 elections.” It was signed by the association’s board of trustees led by its president, Sr. Marissa Viri, RVM.

Similarly, the Catholic educators also reject bets that back the “unjust” actions of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

These, it said, include the government’s ruthless war on drugs “and the blatant lack of remorse and accountability from the country’s leadership.” 

CEAP also rejected candidates who supported the Duterte government’s seeming inaction toward China’s incursions within the Philippine territory.

On the other hand, the Catholic schools said they will support candidates that have no record of corruption, proven competence in participatory governance, and transparency and accountability in public service.

CEAP said they value integrity and they also support candidates who have love for the poor and their empowerment, ability to sacrifice for the sake of the common good, and readiness to fight for values of truth, social justice, and democracy.

“We support leaders who wield power as social responsibility and not self entitlement, and who can connect to the spiritual in their lives, through their conscience, discernment, and faith in God,” it added.

“Our society is now languishing in the darkness of lies, injustice, authoritarianism, and dysfunctional leadership and governance. The May elections is the opportunity that will break this darkness,” CEAP said. – with a report from CBCP News

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