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Greenpeace, partners to test Senate aspirants' greenness


Environment watchdog Greenpeace Southeast Asia plans spearheading this month a forum aimed at scrutinizing 2013 senatorial candidates' respective platforms to see if these are truly green.

Greenpeace campaigner Francis Joseph dela Cruz noted such scrutiny is due to promote public discourse and action on better protecting the environment which is increasingly facing climate change and other threats.

"We'll test the candidates to see if they're green," he said. Greenpeace targets making the forum one highlight of the Philippines’ celebration of Earth Day this year.

Earth Day is an international event which aims to promote environmental protection worldwide.

The planned forum will be aligned with the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey Greenpeace, Ecowaste Coalition and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives earlier decided mounting for all senatorial candidates this year.

Such survey will cover the candidates' respective personal and party positions on several key environmental questions, dela Cruz said.

He said their answers to the survey will be shown in a matrix for a panel of experts to analyze. "We want answers that are actionable after elections," he noted. Conducting the forum will help validate the candidates' survey answers, he noted.

Greenpeace and its partners will present the GEI survey results before this year's mid-term polls to help guide voters accordingly. "We won't endorse candidates but want to analyze their stand on environmental concerns," dela Cruz said.

Aside from promoting discussions on improving environmental protection nationwide, the survey aims to assess the candidates' support for the legislative agenda GEI proponents earlier set to help address environmental issues.

Among such issues are mining, budget appropriation for implementation of Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) as well as enacting national laws on banning plastics, promoting energy efficiency and eliminating toxics in consumer products.

The agenda also calls for instituting a public right to know policy on pollution.

"Companies at present aren't obligated to disclose what's in their warehouses but we're supposed to know that so appropriate measures against pollution and disasters arising from this can be developed," dela Cruz said.

The Basel Ban Amendment's ratification is likewise on the GEI agenda.

"Waste from other countries enter the Philippines since our country isn’t yet a party to this treaty," dela Cruz noted.

Under the Amendment, which several countries already accepted, export of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries is prohibited.

Dela Cruz said GEI proponents earlier decided focusing on senatorial candidates for practicality, noting it's impossible to cover the over 18,000 national and local candidates who are running in this year's polls.

"The Senate is also a law-making body and is in charge of ratifying international treaties of the Philippines," he added.

Commission on Elections already announced a total of 33 candidates are seeking election to the Senate this year.