ELECTIONS 2007: Group to release profile of Davao bets’ take on environment

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 March) – A group of environmentalists will
release a research-based profile of track records and stands on
environmental issues of all local candidates here en route to the May
2007 elections in an effort to help advance the green agenda,
spokespersons of the group said.

The loosely formed group — composed of representatives from
non-government organizations, the academe, the medical profession,
farmers, and community workers — still does not have a name, but it
already has a title for its campaign: “Davao City Green Vote 2007.”

The group, however, clarified they will not endorse any candidate to
avoid being linked to any of them.

Spokespersons pledged to help educate not only the voters but also the
candidates in the initiative.
Dr. Jean Lindo, of the Davao Medical Society, one of the
spokespersons, said the effort will not be a one-shot deal. They will
also go beyond the elections as they will launch an active and
continuous effort to push the green agenda.

Lia Jasmine Esquillo, executive director of the Interface Development
Interventions (IDIS), said they will monitor resolutions or ordinances
the politicians have passed and voted for and find out what positions
they took on environment issues.

The environment agenda, she stressed, is not separate from issues that
the poor encounter, such as food, housing, and health.

Esquillo said the profiling effort will start on March 30 after the
candidates have filed their certificates of candidacy.

She said they will pass a survey form for candidates to fill in as
part of their primary data. She said they will also scour for record
of the incumbent officials’ take on significant environmental issues
in the city and for other materials on the public pronouncements on
those issues.

It will also cover political neophytes who might not have track record
yet on environmental issues, she said.

Aside from profiling the candidates, the group has planned to hold
candidates’ fora in the city’s three congressional districts. Esquillo
said they will give opportunities for candidates to articulate their
environment platform.

They have scheduled five of these gatherings starting April 10.

The group also announced they will work on signing a covenant with the
candidates in an effort to come up with a priority environment agenda,
which they could pursue in the next three years, when elected.

Esquillo said they will use the covenant to monitor if the candidates
who pledged pro-environment stance will translate it to legislative
action.

Lindo stressed the need for an environmental health action in the city
to ensure policies are in place to protect the public from hazards,
and to push for occupational safety, safe agricultural practices,
among other things.

She said, however, that the effort need not be adversarial between the
pro-environment sectors and the “pollutants” in the business sector.
“If they agree on measures to prevent damage to people and
environment, friction could be avoided,” she said.

Fr. Albert Alejo, of the Mindanawon Center at the Ateneo de Davao
University, said the effort should not only focus on voters’ education
but also for the candidates themselves who might have to study more on
environmental issues.

He said it is necessary for both voters and the candidates to
understand and act on environmental issues because errors in policy
and action could redound to damage to a great number of people,
including indigenous people who consider natural resources not only as
material resources.

Dagohoy Magaway, spokesperson of the local group Mamamayan Ayaw sa
Aerial Spraying, said people in the community are at the receiving end
of these mistakes.

He said it is ripe for the group to rally the public to consider the
environment agenda with the gains of the campaign for the approval of
the city’s aerial spraying ban.

Geraldine Catalan, who was invited to speak for women farmers in the
press conference, said that without leaders who are really supportive
of the environmental conservation efforts, farmers in the countryside
would remain in pitiful conditions because of the advent of synthetic
agriculture.

She said they still need more support from government in pushing for
the use of organic farming, noting that expensive fertilizers and farm
implements make it difficult for farmers to survive. (Walter I. Balane
/ MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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