Ecologically destructive projects, attacks continued in Marcos’ first 100 days — groups

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 9) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has assured that climate change is on top of the national agenda, but environmental groups said “ecologically destructive projects and attacks against environment defenders” have continued in the past three months.

In a joint statement released on Sunday, the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, and 350 Pilipinas said repression continued to hamper efforts to stop ecologically destructive projects and reclamation operations.

They cited the arrest of two Lumad youth protesting issues related to their ancestral lands in Davao City during Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address.

READ: PH remains worst place for land, environmental defenders in Asia — watchdog 

They also reported that forest clearing operations related to the Ahunan Hydropower Project have been carried out despite the lack of appropriate permits.

“We…urge our fellow Filipinos to continue to resist the ‘greenwashing’ rhetoric of the Marcos Jr. administration as we approach its first 100 days of office. Despite progressive language in President Marcos Jr.’s recent speeches, ecologically destructive projects and attacks against environment defenders have unfortunately continued in the past three months,” they said.

“As we reach 100 days of the Marcos Jr. administration, we must continue to push for stronger commitments to environmental conservation and action in the face of our climate and ecological crisis,” they added.

According to scholars, greenwashing is a deliberate corporate action to mislead consumers through positive communication and deflection of attention to the company’s poor environmental performance.

There were four speeches where Marcos talked about the importance of climate action and assured that it was on top of the national agenda.

In his inaugural address last June 30, Marcos noted how the Philippines is at the highest risk for climate change despite having a very small carbon footprint. He said he will look to “partners and friends” to help the country in this situation. 

In his first SONA last July 25, he stressed the importance of technology that provides more accurate weather forecasts and disaster impacts. He also said his administration would prioritize renewable energy and reiterated his position to build nuclear power plants in the country.

At the United Nations General Assembly last Sept. 20, Marcos urged developed nations to do their obligations in solving climate change, which he deemed the “greatest threat” affecting the survival of the global community. He also said he is looking forward to hearing concrete outcomes in the Conference of Parties in Egypt in November. 

During the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) multi-stakeholder forum last Oct. 5, the President encouraged over 200 industry and sector leaders to identify shared challenges and gather information to include in DENR's policy agenda. He said a strategic direction must be laid down to maximize the use of the country’s natural wealth for inclusive and sustainable growth.

He also appointed Ma. Antonia "Toni" Yulo-Loyzaga as the Environment Secretary, which was welcomed by environmental groups.

“It was good that he appointed a climate advocate, Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but she would still need a clear directive from the President,” said Greenpeace Philippines country director Lea Guerrero on Thursday.

“While there was an increase in climate-related expenditure for national government institutions, this is actually merely an exercise in budget tagging, rather than climate action planning,” Guerrero added, noting that there was a decrease in the budget of climate-related implementing agencies, particularly the Climate Change Commission, on which Marcos serves as chairperson.

For its part, the DENR is planning to create a natural resources geospatial database, a new experts’ advisory council, and conduct an organizational review to transform itself to “one that is fit for its complex purposes,” Loyzaga said.

“The forum has underscored that inclusive science-based, risk-informed, and equitable policies and programs are integral to the kind of nexus governance we need,” she said during the DENR multi-stakeholder forum.

Greenpeace, on the other hand, called on Marcos to ensure coherent plans for long-term vulnerabilities, recovery, energy transition, and policy implementation as well as direct businesses to comply with the obligations in the Paris Agreement and uphold democracy and human rights.