Environmental and Health Leaders Line Up Priority Issues for PBBM’s First SONA

Civil society leaders have identified priority issues that they would like President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to enunciate during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, including policies and strategies that will advance climate action and justice, zero waste, food security, and human and ecological health.

“We hope the chief executive will use the occasion to make public his key policies and strategies to address plastic pollution during his first year in office,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, noting the president’s “we will clean up” statement in his inaugural speech last June 30.“Stopping plastic pollution at source, banning single-use plastics, listing non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging to be phased out, ratifying the Basel Convention Ban Amendment on hazardous waste exports, and declaring government’s commitment to zero waste, non-toxic circular economy are some of the priorities that we would like him to set his sight on.”

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, emphasized that implementing Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, will help solve the country’s ballooning solid waste problem. “Keeping organics out of landfills (KOOL) is a very effective measure to mitigate climate change. Organic waste in the landfill creates anthropogenic methane which is a very powerful greenhouse gas causing global warming and climate change,” she said. “Enforcing RA 9003 will prevent plastic waste leakage into the open environment causing flooding, ocean pollution and the deaths of thousands of marine animals.”

“Greenpeace believes that the government must institute climate action as the central policy of the state, and must protect people and climate on the basis of climate justice. Climate action must also be at the heart of the country’s economic recovery plan. Marcos Jr. must heed the call of Filipino communities who are championing climate justice and people’s welfare before corporate interests, confront big polluters, and speed up the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” stated Lea Guerrero, Country Director, Greenpeace Philippines.

“Concretely, Marcos Jr. must hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the climate crisis and call on other countries to do the same, initiate the shift to 100% renewable energy in the country, and put in place coherent strategies beyond disaster response,” she said, stressing such strategies “should also address long term vulnerabilities, not just disasters.”

Ocean defender Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President of Oceana Philippines, welcomed the president’s declaration of food security and addressing climate change as priority programs of his administration. “These are intertwined.  Sadly, our country is way behind in many fronts including the full implementation of the amended Fisheries Code and the provisions that would allow us to effectively address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through the use of technology such as vessel monitoring measures (VMM),” she said.

“Oceana launched Karagatan Patrol to increase transparency in fisheries but information on IUU fishing for responsive policy-making can be improved through the full implementation of VMM and opening up the data/dashboard to enforcement agencies and local government units to address illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters. We challenge the new administration to finally implement all the provisions of the amended fisheries code of the Philippines to effectively address IUU Fishing and prioritize food security and climate resiliency in the country,” Ramos said.

Anti-tobacco advocates also appealed for presidential support to their advocacy, specifically urging him to reject the controversial Vape Bill, a task left undone by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. "We strongly urge President Marcos, Jr. to defend every Filipino's right to clean air as enshrined in the Clean Air Act and the highest attainable standard of health by supporting and continuing the smoke-free vision of his predecessor," said Dr. Maricar Limpin, immediate past President of the Philippine College of Physicians and Executive Director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP).

"A possible scenario of having young generations of vape users is a chilling consequence and a failure for the country's implementation of tobacco control laws. Vetoing the Vape Bill now rests in you, Mr. President. In your hands you can save lives,” said Dr. Minerva Calimag, President of the Philippine Medical Association, noting that these novel/alternative products also pose scientifically established and potentially other harms caused by vaping and vape aerosol, not to mention the unabated disposal of its disposable components such as e-juice containers, heat plugs, batteries, other plastic and metal parts.

“As the president, BBM is, therefore, constitutionally mandated to uphold the nation's welfare by ordering and empowering the agricultural sector toward regenerative agriculture, through Filipino, natural bio-remediation technologies, and community-based cooperativization of agricultural marketing. This is his opportunity as it will be his loss if he misses this. The Filipinos, as the government, will act on their own regenerative and bio-remedial systems, coupled with cooperative building and strengthening," said Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) President Rene Pineda, a critic of chemical and gene manipulation-based agriculture.