Perlas best bet to solve water woes, survey shows
By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The water problem must be addressed holistically, said one presidential candidate. Another said clean water was a human right. Watersheds must be safeguarded, stressed yet another. Invest in physical infrastructure, one answered.
These were some of the responses of seven presidential aspirants to questions posed by environmental groups in a “Green Electoral Initiative” (GEI) survey, particularly on the issue of water.
To mark World Water Day Monday, EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace announced their ranking of the presidential candidates’ platforms on clean water. They were graded from zero to 10, with 10 as the “greenest.”
To dramatize the survey results, activists carried nine empty pails of varying sizes representing the candidates’ scores. They queued “pila-balde” style as if at a water pump, at the activity held at Quezon City Hall.
The grading on the water issue was part of a bigger rating scheme for the candidates’ environmental platforms, the complete results of which will be released in April.
Environmentalist Nicky Perlas received the “greenest” mark with 8.7 points, while independent candidate Sen. Jamby Madrigal came in second with 7.8 points. Bagumbayan standard-bearer Sen. Richard Gordon was third with 7.2 points.
They were given the highest marks for their “clear, comprehensive and progressive positions and plans on protecting the country’s water resources.”
Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva scored 4.8 points; Liberal Party’s Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Nacionalista Party’s Sen. Manuel Villar each got 3.6 points, and Ang Kapatiran candidate JC de los Reyes got 2.7 points.
Former President Joseph Estrada of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino and ex-Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi-CMD got zero for not responding to the survey.
Manny Calonzo of EcoWaste Coalition said the ranking on water was the first of a series of “green” rankings to be released.
“We want to inform the voters how those aspiring to lead our nation intend to tackle environmental woes such as the declining quality and quantity of our freshwater sources caused by continued generation and discharge of pollutants from household, agricultural and industrial sources,” he said.
Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition, a network of more than 20 environmental groups, stressed the need to put in place “a robust policy and program that aims at zero discharge to reduce pollution on the country’s freshwater and groundwater sources as well as to avert looming chemical threats to our remaining water supply.”
They also stressed the public’s “right to know” about pollution releases.
On the issue of water, the candidates were asked two questions: (1) If elected president, what specific steps will you take to ensure the availability of clean water sources in the country? and (2) Are you for or against amending the Clean Water Act to incorporate and institutionalize a framework of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from factories and domestic sources?
For Perlas: “Water must be addressed holistically. We need to implement the framework of comprehensive watershed management. And this should be done within a comprehensive land use plan which delineates the watershed areas of the country once and for all.
Madrigal said: “Clean water is a human right. As president and concurrent secretary of the environment, I shall remedy the continuous decline in the quality of our clean water sources. I shall have the DENR issue a system that goes beyond standards and focuses on prevention.
Gordon replied: “First, safeguard our watersheds with reforestation programs that involve endemic species. Second, demand implementation by every local government of the rainwater collection law. Third, develop a system of small dams throughout the country. Fourth, develop a system of incentives for individuals to incorporate rainwater storage systems and filtration in their homes.”