Politicians asked: 'Berde ka ba?'
Activists dressed up as popular superheroes like the Hulk, the Green Lantern and Ben 10, and as local eco-warriors Super Walang Aksaya, Boy Bayong and PCB Eliminator descended to the offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros recently to make sure that environment is a key issue in the 2013 national elections.
The superheroes were accompanied by environmental advocates from Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Buklod-Tao and Gulayan Pilapil Neighborhood Association (GPNAI). The activists wore green masks as they promoted their 2013 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) entitled “Berde ka ba?” – a snapshot of where of senatorial candidates stand on environmental issues.
First launched in 2007 by Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition, the Green Electoral Initiative is meant to remind politicians of their constitutional obligation as future public servants, enlightening voters on who to vote for. Ultimately, GEI aims to ensure that the right of Filipinos to a “balanced and healthful ecology” is upheld and safeguarded.
“The country’s leaders should be green superheroes--not jokers or, worse, environmental villains,” said Francis dela Cruz, spokesperson for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Protecting the environment should be a key national policy and a priority election concern both for the candidates as well as the voting public. Environmental protection directly translates to economic benefits for the nation as a whole, for communities and for each individual Filipino.”
This year’s GEI theme is called “Berde ka ba?” and was inspired by the rising popularity of “fliptop” culture where people try to outwit each other through rap. While this initiative uses humor, it asks serious questions of senatorial candidates and political parties about their plans for the environment should they be voted into office.
For the 2013 electoral campaign, Greenpeace, Ecowaste Coalition and GAIA will conduct an environmental survey based on the following agenda:
· Budget appropriation for the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act[i]
· Ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment[ii]
· Enacting a Public Right to Know Policy on pollution[iii]
· Enacting a national plastic bag banEnacting laws that would eliminate toxics in consumer products
· Enacting a law that would promote energy efficiency
In March, the environmental groups will invite senatorial candidates to a public forum to further expound on these pressing environmental issues.
“The candidates may have green pick-up lines which are effective in capturing the attention of the Filipino public,” said Edwin Alejo, National Coordinator for EcoWaste Coalition. “But they should go beyond mere rhetoric and pursue legislation that would ensure protection of the environment. Our green masks signify our commitment to watch over these candidates relentlessly during the campaign period and to continue our vigilance until after they are elected.”
“While this initiative targets the candidates, “Berde ka ba?” also challenges the voting public to have a green conscience and to think on behalf of the environment when they cast their votes on May 13,” said Paeng Lopez, spokesperson for GAIA.