Environmental Groups Lament This Year's "Green" Survey Results

The results are in. A survey conducted by environmental groups for the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI)[1] 2013 resulted in a very poor response rate from senatorial candidates. Out of the 33 senatorial candidates, only six -- or a measly 18%-- replied to the survey. Those who sent in their responses to the GEI questionnaire included Samson Alcantara, Sonny Angara, Teddy Casiño, Bal Falcone, Risa Hontiveros and Cynthia Villar.

“We appreciate the efforts of these candidates who took the time to study the issues and respond to the survey despite their busy campaign schedules . It  provides us a good indication of their agenda for the environment if they are elected as legislators, and equally important where they stand on the critical environmental issues of our times. However,  the dismal overall response rate to the survey is itself lamentable. This does not reflect well on the priorities of the country’s aspiring leaders,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The GEI questionnaire lined up the 10-point legislative agenda[2] of environmental groups composed of Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). It sought out the views and plans of senatorial candidates to address today’s most pressing environmental issues including Chemical Pollution and Consumer Safety, Solid Waste, Sustainable Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops, Climate Change Adaptation, Energy, Oceans and Mining.

Of those who responded, Angara, Casiño, Hontiveros and Villar provided clear categorical answers with concrete plans to pursue legislative solutions or proposals on specific issues. While the four candidates supported an increase in uptake of renewable energy, not everyone agreed to phase out dirty energy sources such as coal and waste-to-energy facilities. Casiño and Hontiveros clearly favoured phasing out coal. All four were also against the recommissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

All respondents agreed that public access to pollution information was crucial in curbing pollution and committed to push for the establishment of Pollutant Release and Transfer Register[3] (PRTR)
Angara, Hontiveros and Villar had very clear positions and plans that would push for the elimination of hazardous chemicals in consumer products. On the issue of plastic bags, Angara, Hontiveros and Villar committed to pursue legislation that would regulate them at a national scale.

All candidates support the reduction of chemicals in agriculture as well as promote ecological agriculture. While all commit to mandatory labelling of genetically engineered products and ingredients, only Angara, Casiño and Hontiveros and agree to a ban field releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Finally, on the question whether they have been involved in or benefited from environmentally destructive projects, Casiño and Hontiveros emphatically stated that they have not.

“This should serve as a guide to voters when they cast their ballots on Monday. If elected, we hope these candidates will follow through on their commitments,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition. “To those who project and package themselves as environmental crusaders, but have not responded to this survey, we challenge them to walk the talk. They should go beyond rhetoric and pursue legislation that would advance the  protection of the environment,” Lucero added.

[1] The GEI is a project of Greenpeace, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the EcoWaste Coalition and its member organizations started in 2007. It is a venue to engage candidates and the voting public on environmental issues. The survey is aimed at drawing out the green agenda of the candidates so that voters are able to choose green candidates.
[3] This policy establishes a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) which allows the public free access to information on hazardous chemicals and is aimed at pollution reduction.