Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green Convergence: 2008 Earth Day Statement

April 22, 2008

“GREEN, not Greed!”

The Green Convergence joins the nation in denouncing the abhorrent NBN-ZTE deal and demanding truth, accountability, and reform. At the same time, what is essentially called for now is to use what we have learned from the past and what this scandal is teaching us, so that we can push beyond actions that accomplish only a “changing of the guards” and get on the road to genuine social, political, and economic transformation.

History teaches us that we must accept collective responsibility for the sorry state of our nation and recognize the need to attend to our own personal conversion. For example, we have repeatedly learned that in the corridors of power, a great many people are so greedy that they will sell us to the dogs to feed their insatiable lust for money. Has this turned our people into vigilant watchdogs of government programs to ensure that these are for the benefit of the people and not for the greedy who want to rake in more, more, and more?

Obviously not, or the public would surely have taken notice of government undertakings that are even more scandalous than the NBN-ZTE deal for the far-reaching damages they can bring to our economy, our environment, and our people’s health, safety and security. Some of the policies and programs that should disturb all Filipinos are:

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). This treaty is riddled with so many constitutional, legal, economic and environmental flaws that the government needs to prop it up with hollow assurances of “side agreements,” “safety nets,” and “conditional concurrences.” JPEPA contains a provision that clearly allows Japan to export its toxic, municipal and other wastes to the Philippines at zero tariff. JPEPA gives the Japanese national rights to our land, waters and natural resources. JPEPA bends over backwards to give better treatment and undue advantages to Japanese businessmen over Filipino nationals.

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995. In spite of historical evidence that large-scale mining has caused enormous damage to our mountains, forests, soil, rivers and seas as well as the brutal displacement of upland communities, the government relentlessly promotes large-scale mining by foreign firms, allowing them 100% ownership of mining projects and the repatriation of all profits, equipment and investments. The sell-out includes promises of priority access to water resources and removal of all ‘obstacles’ to mining, including local settlements and farms.

Promotion of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In spite of mounting scientific evidence of likely harm to human and animal health and the ecological balance, the Philippine government has aggressively pushed the development and commercialization of GMOs. This technology enriches foreign multinationals while threatening our food safety and the economic survival of farmers who must purchase GM seeds at every harvest. Moreover, alien genes and monoculture faming will deplete the biodiversity on which we rely for survival, especially during environmental crises such as the worsening climate change.

Proposed Laiban Dam Project. Although large dams have been discredited by the World Commission on Dams sponsored by the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Program, the government is poised to build the 113-meter high Laiban Dam near a geologic fault in Tanay, Rizal. It will submerge forest, agricultural land, 7 barangays and 3,500 families in Kaliwa Watershed and will threaten the water supply, the agriculture and the lives of the communities of Infanta, Real and General Nakar. The $1.3 billion needed for this infrastructure will add to the nation’s heavy debt burden.

Where is the national furor over such programs and projects?

And why, in the face of their actual and potential harm, does the government persist in ramming them through? The NBN-ZTE issue may shed clues to the answer.

Now, the Filipino people are called upon to examine our role in nation-building. Everyone has the responsibility to know and understand the stakes involved in our developmental thrusts. Individually and in unity, we must reject frameworks that are skewed to favor foreign interests, are prone to corruption, ignore ecological harm, widen economic disparities, and deprive citizens of their right to real participation in developmental decision-making and actions in their own localities.

We must work to realize the sustainable development blueprint of the Philippine Agenda 21 which will bring socio-economic progress to every Filipino, while protecting the ecological balance on which our physical, economic and national survival depends. GREEN overcoming GREED is the only way to ensure safe food, a healthy environment and sustainable economy for our people.

Dr. Angelina P. Galang
(Mobile Number: 0917 8538841; Email address: agalang@mc.edu.ph)
April 21, 2008

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