Youth groups pen 'love letter' to candidates for green agenda

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2022 06:30 PM

Greenpeace: Time is ticking to prevent climate catastrophe 

MANILA - Several youth groups and environmental campaigners on Monday wrote a "love letter" to the candidates in this year's elections urging them to prioritize and highlight climate issues during their campaign before things are too late. 

The movement on Valentine's Day, dubbed as "Love, 52," is joined by Greenpeace and some 20 youth groups nationwide. 

The 52 signifies the percentage of youth voters in the upcoming elections, according to the statement. The call to action will be sent to the candidates for "their signature and commitment."

"Now is the time to get their acts together... This is the first time in most of our lives that we are in a global crisis," Ateneo De Manila University's Gus Rodriguez said during the launch.

"If there is anything that the pandemic showed us is that leadership is crucial in the face of a global emergency," Rodriguez said in his presentation. 

Co-project lead Maverick Flores said the security of the youth's future must be a priority. 

Flores noted that the Philippines experiences the biggest impact of climate change through storms and persistent flooding "which will continue to worsen" if politicians would not do anything urgent to address the climate crisis.

"Kayo ang may kapangyarihang mag-decide kung sino ang ating mga bagong leader... As you may have heard, may target set tayo... na by 2030 1.5 degrees Celsius ang ating global warming or else we are gonna suffer plenty of consequences," Flores explained. 

So far, only the Partido Lakas ng Masa's senatorial hopefuls have openly rooted for environmental programs, and used it in their campaign, to help address the climate crisis. 

Senatorial aspirant and environmental activist David D’Angelo said he would file a climate emergency bill and called for the moratorium of mining activities in the Philippines and to criminalize violations against the environment.

Fellow Senate bet Roy Cabanegro said environmentalists such as he and D’Angelo should join government to enact programs that would save the environment. 

House lawmaker and senatorial candidate Loren Legarda has also pushed for green agenda in her campaign advertisements.

LETTER TO FIGHT CLIMATE INJUSTICE 

In the love letter, the youth groups apologized to mother nature for letting the powerful abuse its natural resources.

They also noted that environmental issues will only be remembered in the face of natural calamities and crises, when things seem "too late" already.
 
"Dinumihan nila ang hangin, pinuno ng basurang plastik ang mga dagat at lungsod, at patuloy na pinalala ang krisis pangklimang nagdadala sa iyo ng taunang mapangwasak na mga bagyo, tagtuyot, at kagutuman," the letter read. 

"Kaming mga nakalagdang kandidato sa halalang ito ay nangangakong
itaguyod ang masiglang demokrasyang kinakailangan para sa hustisyang
pangklima at pangkalikasan," it added.

The signatories said they wrote the letter to show that they were not neglecting the realities people face because of environmental and societal woes, vowing to also stop whatever is compounding the problem. 

"Bibigyan din namin ng pansin ang mga isyung pinalulubha ng krisis
na ito – ang mga isyu sa kalusugang pisikal at pangkaisipan, kakulangan sa pagkain at tubig, kahirapan, at iba pa," they said. 

"Kasama rin dito ang pagtuligsa at pagpigil sa mga kamaliang nagpapalala sa estado ng kalikasan – ang pagbaboy sa karapatang pantao, pagsupil sa karapatan sa pamamahayag, disimpormasyon, mga mapanirang gawain ng pamahalaan at mga korporasyon (tulad ng industriyang fossil fuel), at lahat ng uri ng diskriminasyon sa lipunan."

NOT DOOMED TO FAIL 

Lea Guerrero, Greenpeace Philippines' country director, told ABS-CBN News that they remain confident that the environmental agenda would be prioritized on the lead-up to the May elections. 

The environmental agenda is not doomed to fail, Guerrero noted, even if this is being shelved by most of the candidates. 

"While it's true that this doesn't yet figure as the top agenda for many of them, we're quite confident that environment and climate will emerge as a priority issues in the coming weeks and months," she explained. 

"They can't afford to ignore it, not just because of the clamor from youth, civil society, and other concerned citizens, but also because if they do get elected, those crises will be their reality, the same way we are trying to cope with and address COVID right now."

What the country can do is to prevent the "worst impacts of the climate crisis." 

"The overall scale of changes is of unprecedented nature in all human history and some of it already irreversible... And we can do this by limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels," she explained. 

The environmental agenda will continue to go on even if the candidates do not commit to it, non-profit group National Society of Parliamentarians said. 

"The green agenda lives as long as the movement continues, the movement composed of the youth, IPs, and other marginalized sectors. Candidates will help us amplify and accelerate the accomplishment of the green agenda, which is their responsibility naman in the first place," Vince Davidson Pacañot said. 

The Philippines is among more than 40 countries at COP26 that have committed to shift away from the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. 

However, the country, through Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, only endorsed two of the pledge's four clauses, specifically rapidly scaling up deployment of clean power generation; and making a just transition away from coal power that also benefits workers and communities.

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