Davide hits charter change as ‘war against the environment’

By Kalikasan PNE

Calling the proposed charter change (cha-cha) a “war against the environment,” former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. said the constitutional amendments threaten a “catastrophic environmental crisis and grave intergenerational injustice.”

In his keynote speech in a public forum on the ecological implications of cha-cha held at the Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute last April 12, 2017, Davide said the lifting of the 60 percent Filipino citizenship requirement is potentially dangerous.

“[L]eaving it completely to Congress to provide a new rule, which could even include no requirement at all, would end up with the outright surrender of the natural wealth – and eventually even of the country itself – to foreigners, especially to foreign business conglomerates,” Davide said.

Davide said various doctrinal principles and rules on the right to environment, such as the jurisprudence of the ‘Oposa v. Factoran’ case on intergenerational justice and the Supreme Court’s Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases in 2010, “would be either put to naught or severely emasculated” by cha-cha’s proposed amendments.

He also noted that the proposed Federal component States or Regions, each “lorded over by enlarged or new political dynasties who may have their own business empires” would create new layers of corruption regarding the exploitation, development, and utilization of natural resources.

Kalikasan PNE photo.

In a unity statement released during the forum, the LUNTIAN (Lumaban sa Cha-cha, Ipagtanggol ang Kalikasan) coalition said that on top of allowing 100 percent foreign ownership, “timber lands, mineral lands, reclaimed lands, and national parks that have been exclusive for public interest will be reclassified to allow private ownership, making these critical ecosystems vulnerable to land grabs and monopolies by foreign capital and big business.”

They furthered that “cha-cha proposes to delete Article XVIII Section 25 which prohibits foreign military bases and facilities in the country. If approved, the conversion of our shoals such as in West PH Sea and Benham Rise into naval and air bases, including the storage of nuclear weapons and other dangerous war materiel on Philippine soil, will be legally free.”

The forum was organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in cooperation with the LUNTIAN Coalition, Miriam Public Education and Awareness Campaign for the Environment (Miriam PEACE), Green Convergence, Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM), Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC), Nilad, UP Green League, and the No to Cha-cha Coalition.

The forum organizers announced that they will hold an ‘Eco-Walk’ on April 21, 6:00 to 9:00 AM at the University of the Philippines – Diliman comprised of environmental education activities such as bird watching, native tree walks, a museum walk, and an urban gardening workshop for children, to highlight what is at stake should cha-cha push through.#

NUJP condemns Army’s attempt to bar reporter from covering Marawi protest

Indeed, it is for those in authority, particularly the armed services, to observe proper decorum as any misstep could result in grievous harm not only to journalists but to all other citizens of this land.

March 31, 2018

We have long been under the impression that Colonel Romeo Brawner was one of those who fit the definition of an “officer and gentleman.”

Regretfully, he has just disabused us with his non-sequitur on the attempted eviction of journalist and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) member Kath Cortez from covering the March 30 protest of Marawi residents seeking to return to their homes inside the shattered city’s main battle area by an Army officer who also sought to have our colleague’s identification documents and equipment confiscated.

In a statement, Brawner, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Marawi, tried to justify the officer’s action as having been “influenced by the fact that leftist and non-Muslim organizations attempted to infiltrate the ranks of the legitimate Maranao internally displaced persons (IDPs) reportedly to agitate the peace-loving rallyists to become aggressive and even violent.”

We are sure our Meranaw brethren who participated in the protest can and will respond to Brawner’s claims.

But even if the good colonel’s allegation of “infiltration” were true, how does it explain the officer’s clear reaction to seeing Cortez’s ID?

“Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!”

(Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

This, to our mind, had nothing to do with any imagined infiltration or instigation and everything to do with a deliberate effort to prevent Cortez from covering a public event of national significance, even to the point of physically booting her out of Marawi.

That Brawner links this incident to his theory of infiltration is misguided at best and, worse, could actually endanger our colleagues by implying that security forces’ suspicions are enough reason for them to suppress journalists from coverage and/or subject them to clearly unconstitutional acts like confiscation of their property and arbitrary eviction, which not even martial law justifies.

Nevertheless, we welcome Brawner’s assurance that the 103rd Brigade “is now investigating this incident and will remind all army personnel in Marawi, of the proper decorum during events such as this.”

Indeed, it is for those in authority, particularly the armed services, to observe proper decorum as any misstep could result in grievous harm not only to journalists but to all other citizens of this land.

ALERT: Journalist barred from covering Marawi residents’ returning to their homes

March 30, 2018

A journalist covering the return of Marawi folk to ground zero was barred from entering the war-torn city on Friday.

An unidentified officer of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) barred Davao Today and Kilab Multimedia reporter Kath M. Cortez from covering the rally that marked the return of Marawi City residents to their homes.

While taking photos of the protesters at the PA-Philippine National Police blockade at the city’s Rapitan Bridge, the officer saw Cortez’s media ID and reportedly shouted: “’Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!”

(Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

Before soldiers could carry out the order, Cortez had safely retreated at the back of rally where she was joined by fellow journalists from Davao City.

While covering the rally’s program, which was about to end, a military again approached and told her to get out of the city.

Cortez and her fellow journalists from Davao have safely gotten out of the city as of posting time.

–NUJP Media Safety Office

Appeal to Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

“We appeal to you to let Marawi be rebuilt the way our ancestors did: one house at a time, one masjid at a time. One village at a time.”

Mr. President:

We, the people of Marawi City and those who are one with us, would like to appeal to your kind office to intervene in the planned rebuilding of our beloved city and to stop the plan to establish an Ecozone that was presented to us by Sec. Eduardo Del Rosario, Chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi, and Usec Adoracion M. Navarro, Regional Development Office of the NEDA on March 21-22, 2018 during the Multi-Sectoral Consultation on Marawi Rehabilitation held at the Social Hall, Capitol Complex, Marawi City.

We are Mranaw, the people of the lake. Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful has given us this land, this lake. Long before the Spaniards came. Long before the Americans came. Long before the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines, we were and have always been the people of the lake. We determine our fate since our ancestors first settled in this land guided by our leaders, the will of our people and the guiding will of Allah (swt).

Under the eyes of He who is the giver of life, we lived and built our community. In peace. In harmony. In freedom!

A freedom we so loved that we resisted those who dared deprive us of this freedom. Resisted Spain. Resisted the United States. Resisted all invaders. With our blood. With our lives. With fierce determination to keep our people free and dignified.

With the same determination, we built Marawi. Slowly. Gradually. One house at a time. One masjid (mosque) at a time. One village at a time. We built this City of Our Dreams and Aspirations. The embodiment of our culture and identity. The expression of our faith. Through the years, Marawi stood fast. Thrived and flourished.

Marawi was, is, and will always be our pride and our symbol. Marawi that is now in shambles. Devastated. Ravaged by a war we never wanted. Forced upon us by the exigencies of these times and historical imperatives.

Mr. President, we understand the urgencies that led to the war. We may not all agree to the manner it was waged and won. What we can do now is to face the future and do what is best to be done.

Right now, the future seems threatening. Forces are moving that threaten to do far greater damage to our people than what the war has done. The bullet-riddled, crumbling remains of the Grand Masjid in our beloved Marawi, silent as it is now and absent of prayers, cries out.

For in the guise of rebuilding our home, in the guise of laying down the foundations of a better, progressive and modern city, the will and vision of those who live far from us who built this city are being imposed upon us. This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul.

Plans have been made without our participation. Plans that neither bear the stamp of our will nor reflect our culture. Plans whose mechanics and implementation are not clear to us. But one thing is clear: the people of Marawi are largely left out. Those who came to present the plan dismissed our comments, recommendations, and protestations as though we knew nothing and have no business getting involved in rebuilding our very own city.

Mr. President, as former mayor of a great city, you must know that a city is not merely the sum of its buildings. Not merely an occasion for economic gain. Not merely a blueprint of a well laid out interconnection of industrial, commercial, entertainment parks, however grand.

A city symbolizes its people. Built upon the aspirations and dreams of its people. Nurtured by and reflective of the identity of its people. We are not building a city from debris. We are rebuilding a city from history and from memory.

The blueprint of this city is in the hearts and minds of the Meranaws, and not in the drawing boards of urban architects and master planners.

Mr. President, you belong to our people. You know we will not keep quiet and simply accept this. We cannot accept that those who know so little of us would map out how to rebuild our city. Our home for since time immemorial.

We appeal then to you, Mr. President, to grant us, the people of the lake, the rightful heirs to this land, our right to rebuild this city with your guidance, support and protection.

We appeal to you to let Marawi be rebuilt the way our ancestors did: one house at a time, one masjid at a time. One village at a time. We welcome those who are willing to help us in this endeavor, for the challenges are daunting and the costs are high. We appeal though that please help us rebuild according to our will in pursuit of the will of Allah (swt). Stand with us, help us, please, be one of us.

Mr. President, please put a stop to the proposed Eco zone and military camp plans until we have been heard, until our dreams and aspirations, our cultural sensitivities and our faith find expression in the rebuilding of Marawi City, our home.

This is the cry of our people. This is the cry of Marawi. This is our appeal, Mr. President.

-Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement-

No to Coal in Bohol

We, the Bohol Clean Energy Advocates, call on the Sanggunian Panlungsod of Tagbilaran City and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol to recognize the negative impacts of coal-based power generation and the need to shift to renewable energy sources by passing resolutions to support calls for “a moratorium on the establishment of carbon-intensive and fossil-based technologies”; and interpose its objection on any proposed coal-fired project within our province;

WE ALSO URGE on the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Energy to deny any applications for coal-fired and other fossil-based power plants within Bohol; and implement the mandate for the development and use of renewable, sustainable energy sources and technologies.

We urge the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) and the Officials of the Provincial Government of Bohol to faithfully and strongly enforce the Vision and Mission of the province as “a prime eco-cultural destination and a strong, balanced agro-industrial province, with a well-educated, God-loving and law-abiding citizenry, proud of their cultural heritage, enjoying a state of well-being and committed to sound environmental management”, through “good governance and effective partnerships with stakeholders”; as well as the declaration of our province as an Eco-Cultural Tourism Zone under Republic Act No. 9446 that mandates us to “protect and enhance the natural features and cultural heritage of the tourism zone, while providing sustainable economic opportunities for the local community”.

Why is this important?

Alarmed that there are sectors in the Provincial Government along with investors and power providers who are poised to endorse a backward idea of a coal-fired power plant in the island, we demand that our leaders to lead us in achieving Bohol’s Goals that include, among others, Environmental Protection and Management; and, Responsive, transparent and accountable governance.

Drawing from our earlier manifesto, we echo the call, this time, taking a firm stand against whatever plans and machinations there might be to utilize coal in generating power within our province. We have united behind the following arguments:

1. THAT COAL IS DIRTY AND DEADLY. Coal damages both people and planet. Existing and proposed coal power plants in the Philippines can cause up to 2,410 premature deaths annually according to a 2015 Harvard study. Coal burning emits substances which contribute to smog, haze, lung disease, and respiratory illnesses; as well as neurological and developmental damage in humans and other animals (US Energy Information Administration, 2017). Coal mining contributes to soil erosion, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. It is directly linked with climate change as it is responsible for 46% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, inducing natural disasters.

2. THAT COAL IS COSTLY. While there is still a popular perception that coal is sold cheaply, a research by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) revealed that coal use actually brings with it additional costs that are not traditionally taken into account such as: (1) Subsidies to coal producers; (2) Air pollution estimated to cause more than 6,000 global deaths annually; and, (3) Greenhouse Gas emissions that undermine targets under the Paris Agreement on Climate. If we monetize these impacts the total cost of coal is estimated to be around USD 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), more than double the cost of competing renewable energy based on recent renewable auction results.

3. THAT GLOBALLY COAL IS NO LONGER A VIABLE OPTION. The recent falls in solar Photo Voltaic prices have led India to cancel new coal capacity, in addition to rising concern about the impacts of coal use on air pollution. In China, this concern led to a moratorium on new coal plants in 28 out of 31 provinces. With the tide turning against coal across the world, there is real concern that investments made today could soon be impossible to operate on environmental, public health and cost grounds, leaving a legacy of stranded power stations as the last monuments to the age of coal. (IISD, 2017)

WE REJECT the proposal or plan of private or government investors in establishing a coal-power plant in the province of Bohol because it is tantamount to a violation of the existing laws and commitment for the Boholano people;

WE DECLARE that renewable energy is the way forward. A 2013 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report said that in 2011, at least 384 renewable energy service contracts were awaiting approval from the Department of Energy, equalling to 6,046 MW of generation capacity. Currently, there are 13 operational coal-fired power plants with a combined installed capacity of 4.937 MW;

WE STRONGLY SUPPORT the development of renewable energy sources as the way forward for our beloved Bohol that claims to have ecological and cultural tourism as its main path for sustainable development being one of its primary economic drivers.

WE ENJOIN our fellow Boholanos and residents to join us in this worthy cause to save our environment from this threat of destruction for our sake and the future generation.

WE DEMAND as citizens and voters that the Sanggunian Panlungsod of Tagbilaran City and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol shall recognize the negative impact of coal-based power generation and the need to shift to renewable energy sources by passing Resolutions to support calls for “a moratorium on the establishment of carbon-intensive and fossil-based technologies”; and interpose its objection on any proposed coal-fired project within our province;

WE ALSO URGE on the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Energy to deny any applications for coal-fired and other fossil-based power plants within Bohol; and implement the mandate for the development and use of renewable, sustainable energy sources and technologies.