YESTERDAY was Earth Day. Marking it on an election season couldn’t be more crucial for our lives and environment. It is hoped that registered voters – numbering 61,843,750 according to the Commission on Elections – will use their inherent discerning abilities to choose candidates and groups who will work and fight for their environmental rights.
Environmental rights, according to Friends of the Earth International and Ecowaste Coalition, are human rights because livelihoods, health and man’s very existence depend upon the quality of and his access to the surrounding environment as well as the recognition of his rights to information, participation, security and redress.
All registered voters are called upon to pick national and local candidates and party-list groups who will genuinely work with and for the people in ensuring a clean, healthy, safe and sustainable environment for all.
At the provincial, city and municipal councils, we need to install grassroots lawmakers who will file and fight for ordinances aimed at protecting the public health and the environment. We want to see local government units promulgating ordinances that will promote health and safety and enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology in line with the general welfare clause of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code. We need more local government executives who possess the political will to promote and uphold the environmental rights of their constituents.
In the Senate and House of Representatives, we need senators and representatives across the political spectrum who will actively engage in getting national laws and regulations adopted to protect the environment against further degradation and uphold environmental health and justice. We need legislative leaders who will defend existing pollution prevention laws such as the ban on waste incineration and who will take the lead in ensuring the enactment of long overdue environmental acts such as the ban on single-use plastic and the ban on foreign waste importation.
As the impacts of climate change, marine pollution and hazardous waste trade become more obvious every day, there is a need for voters to elect true champions for the environment. The electorate must look for and support aspiring political leaders who will take up the cudgels for the people’s environmental rights.