Reforms have begun in 10 out of 14 major environmental concerns within
Duterte’s first 100 days – Eco-Challenge

Press Statement

6 October 2016

Change has definitely come in 10 of the 14 environmental demands
outlined by environmental advocates at the onset of the first 100 days
under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte—but the Duterte administration
can still do better in pursuing immediate, urgent reforms to ensure
environmental protection, wise natural resource management, and people’s
rights and welfare.

The administration’s performance in addressing foreign militarism
received a ‘gold’ rating for the president’s consistent and strong
policy pronouncements in finally putting an end to US-PH military
exercises that have caused hazardous waste dumps and other forms of
environmental degradation over the years. Duterte has also announced
that his cabinet is already reviewing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation
Agreement (EDCA).

In the same breath that we stand up for the international court ruling
over the West Philippine Sea to protect our marine resource patrimony,
the administration should look into the long-standing track record of
environmental impacts by US military exercises and bases, as well as the
EDCA provision that allows the transit of nuclear weapons through
‘agreed locations that serve as de facto US bases, as major reasons for
repudiating US militarist policies.

Duterte garnered ‘silver’ ratings in the issues of mining, agriculture,
the peace talks, and environmental governance. Highlight actions taken
by the administration include Environment Sec. Gina Lopez’s suspension
of 10 big mines, Agrarian Reform Sec. Rafael Mariano’s two-year land-use
conversion freeze, the appointment of pro-people and pro-environment
leaders in relevant public offices, and the ground-breaking pace of the
peace talks between the PH Government and the National Democratic Front
of the Philippines, now opening discussions on far-reaching social and
economic reforms with an emphasis on environmental reforms.

Challenges in these issues include the ‘business-as-usual’ of
corporate-controlled genetically modified organism (GMO) crops, the lack
of permanent closures of long-established destructive mines, the
entrenchment of corrupt officials in the relevant agencies, and the
seeming attempt of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to sabotage
the peace talks.

‘Bronze’ ratings were given to issues where initial reforms have been
overshadowed by negative trends in policy and governance, including
toxics, disasters and climate change, reclamation, fisheries, and policy
reforms. On the issue of toxics, for instance, the process of
repatriating the Canadian trash dumped in the Philippines, for instance,
does not yet cover all waste containers. There is also no progress yet
to push various policy proposals for toxics control reforms.

Meanwhile, different initiatives of government agencies to prepare for
the La Nina climate phenomenon and reduce the risks of worsening extreme
weather events, dismantle illegal fish pens, regulate reclamation
activities, and prioritize reforms in environmental laws face different
problems and limitations such as unsystematic planning, policy gaps, and
internal or inter-agency conflicts.

The Duterte government, however, received ‘black’ marks for the issues
of energy, the national greening program, logging, and killings and
trumped-up charges against environmentalists. Coal power projects
continue to expand, the corruption and land-grabbing cases under the
National Greening Program remains uninvestigated, both legal and illegal
timber operations remain business-as-usual, and at least five (5) cases
of killings of environmental defenders have been recorded under the new
administration.

We in the Ecological Challenge for Change (Eco-Challenge) commend the
Duterte administration for walking the talk of environmental reforms,
but there is still much to be done. We urge the president to
constructively take stock of the major shortcomings identified by the
Eco-Challenge and take double efforts to strengthen and enforce
environmental regulations, advance new progressive legislation, and
assert our national patrimony and sovereignty towards genuine
pro-people, pro-environment development.

The Eco-Challenge will continue to engage the Duterte administration
towards ensuring the protection of the environment and safeguarding the
people’s rights. We will continue our people’s movements to help the
Duterte administration in monitoring environmental concerns, holding
environmentally destructive and pollutive projects accountable, and
supporting programs and policy reforms.#

The Eco-Challenge is a broad national coalition of 40 pro-environment
and pro-people formations that united to call on the Duterte
administration for a comprehensive environmental program of action.

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net