10M Filipino signatures push for climate justice
Civil society groups on Friday presented 10 million signatures for the environment gathered in four years as they pushed for climate justice to become an election issue.
“These are 10 million Filipinos who are looking for leaders that are not afraid to take huge and concrete actions for the environment, especially as we begin to face the dangers of climate change,” said Gina Lopez, chair of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc., who led 819 organizations in the signature campaign.
Lopez said the campaign started in 2011 in support of the Save Palawan Movement against mining and the Bantay Kalikasan’s Yes to Agriculture and Ecotourism program.
The signatures, which reached 10 million three weeks ago, were presented in a press briefing in Quezon City yesterday as the climate change talks in Paris come to a close.
“It’s very sad to note that in a country most vulnerable to climate change, the bulk of large-scale mining being practiced here is open-pit, they will blast (the ground),” Lopez said. “Mining takes away trees.”
She said the bulk of the 10 million signatures came from schools and communities where there is widespread mining, such as in Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas and Palawan provinces, and regions in Mindanao.
The local government shoulders all the environmental damage, health and social costs of mining while most of the taxes go to the national government, a study conducted by Palawan State University, Bicol State University and Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology showed.
In Bicol, 76 percent of taxes went to the national government; in Palawan, 93 percent, and in Mindoro, 82 percent.
“It’s not fair. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Lopez said.
“The top campaign contributors of all presidential hopefuls are big mining companies. The modus operandi of mining companies is to invest in politicians. They need approval of the national government, provincial government and the barangay. So they fund elections,” she said.
“We’re in a geohazard zone, there is no such thing as responsible mining. The way to go for our country is agriculture and ecotourism,” she said.
The tourism industry generated 4.7 million jobs in 2014 while the mining industry employed only 235,000, Lopez said.
The tourism industry also contributed P982.4 billion or 7.8 percent of the 2014 gross domestic product while mining gave P82.4 billion (0.7 percent), she added. With a report from Krizia Jamille Yap
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