By Melvin Gascon
Environment groups on Monday expressed concern over the proposed charter change by the Duterte government, saying the draft federal constitution bodes danger for the environment.
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment rejected the bid to change the constitution and replace it with one that would supposedly allow foreigners and political dynasties to gain full control of the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources.
“We resoundingly reject Duterte’s Cha-cha which would only open up more of our natural resources, lands, and coastal areas to 100-percent privatization and foreign ownership,” said Leon Dulce, Kalikasan national coordinator.
Kalikasan cited provisions in the draft constitution which supposedly removed the exclusive right of Filipino-owned companies to exploit the country’s natural resources.
Under a proposed federal system of government, natural resources will supposedly be under the control of regional republics, which, Dulce said, will most surely fall into the hands of the regions’ political dynasties.
The group thumbed down the government’s ongoing efforts to address ecological problems, saying these were “not commensurate” with the rate of environmental destruction the country is facing.
On the contrary, the Duterte government is “encouraging policies which threaten to exacerbate these losses,” Kalikasan said.
The group also challenged the government to protest the reported destruction by Chinese fishermen of corals and other marine resources in the West Philippine Sea.
“We are with the 80 percent of the Filipino people opposed to the Duterte regime’s continuing inaction over China’s continuing occupation and reclamation efforts in our water (and the) 90 percent of Filipinos who strongly believe retaking the reefs and shoals turned into islands are on just grounds,” Kalikasan said.
They slammed the Duterte government’s centerpiece of its environmental programs, the rehabilitation of Boracay island, as “a fake program”, as this was carried out with no concrete strategic plans.
“No concrete action has been taken on the still-permitted mega-casinos and big resorts, and attempts at independent investigations into the island’s situation are being prevented,” Dulce said.
Kalikasan also assailed the alleged failure of President Duterte to make good his promise to make erring mining companies liable for their violations against the country’s environmental laws.
“Duterte’s hogwash rants against the big mines are being contradicted by the actions of his own Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) which is set to reopen and allow to operate at least 24 of the 28 big mines supposedly up for closure or suspension,” they said.
“More and more people will get to see for whom this regime indeed stands for: the mining oligarchs at the helm of his own (members of) Congress and Cabinet,” Kalikasan added. #