At today’s Inquirer Presidential Debate at University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, two candidates caught my attention in terms of their environmental views.
First was Nicky Perlas, whom I realized would make a good DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary, but not a president–well, not yet at least. See, he had clearcut answers about environment and health issues during the debate; but had farfetched answers on questions related to actual governance and politics. This made me unsure of his capactiy to lead a country.
I agreed with him when he said that environmental protection goes hand in hand with development. Although the time limit of the debate did not allow him to elaborate, I knew where he was coming from, especially after having read Vandana Shiva’s “Staying Alive” and David Korten’s “People Centered Development”.
Which leads me to the second candidate whose environmental view interested me: Gibo Teodoro, who no doubt was an eloquent and astute speaker, but whose view on “sustainable mining” disturbed me. For him, sustainable mining meant that mining is permissible and acceptable as long as locals agree with it. For him, it’s just a matter of getting the ‘yes’ of locals before exploiting natural resources.
The important question to ask, though, is the WHY. That is, to determine the REASON why locals would agree to mining–to the exploitation and degradation of their land. First and foremost would be for sheer survival. In poor provinces, people permit the exploitation of their resources because of poverty and the need to feed themselves and their families. The less fortunate do not have time to contemplate the intellectual aspects of environmental destruction. Due to their hand-to-mouth existence, their concern usually is where to get their next meal. Therefore, their saying ‘YES’ to an ill-defined “sustainable mining” would stem from THE FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL and not an intellectually-charged rationale for agreement.
Needless to say, this was the question that made me eliminate Gibo Teodoro from my list of people to consider as president.
I would have wanted to vote for Nicky Perlas for his apparent sincerity and his mastery of environment and health issues, which are two of my three must-do’s (aside from education), but it is to early to entrust the whole Philippines to someone who needs more experience in governance.
In my head, I’ve also eliminated Erap Estrada (For obvious reasons–Duh!), Manny Villar (Trapo!), Jamby Madrigal (Drama Queen!), and Eddie Villanueva, who kept on harping about “moral leadership”, but who fell short on CONCRETE STEPS on how to go about it.
I was surprised to see some eloquence in Noynoy Aquino. I was amazed to hear him speak fluent and beautiful-sounding Filipino. And more importantly, his answers made sense! True, he was pretty low-profile as senator, but I’ll see how he morphs into an able presidentiable in the coming months.
I understand it’s too much to ask for presidentiables to be tree-huggers, but I hope they’ll put the environment in their platform too. Because even before this circus of an election season came to be, climate change has arrived. It’s here. And 92 million lives are at stake.