Cebu holds Philippine Environmental Summit

Cebu holds Philippine Environmental Summit

2018 03 14 dr Angelina Galang of green convergence

By Albert Balbutin & Princess del Castillo, March 14, 2018 via Haribon

Around 1,000 environmental advocates recently gathered for the 2nd Philippine Environmental Summit in Cebu City.

Speakers included Senator Grace Poe, Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and a video message from former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

During the summit, Poe stressed that when it comes to the issue of fossil fuels there should be a balance among the financial capability of consumers, their health and the environment.

“I don’t understand why they need to perhaps build another coal plant here in Cebu when, with all the coal plants being built even in Mindanao there will be a glut actually when most of those are operational,” added Poe.

Cimatu also gave an update on the water contamination issues in Boracay, where he had been tasked by the administration to “clean up” the popular tourist destination in 6 months.

According to Cimatu, over 800 of the 2,600 establishments in Boracay discharge waste water. He also added that while 118 of them have discharge permits, 36 had failed to renew them.

“Over the years, due to the cumulative effect of runaway development, the influx of people beyond the island’s carrying capacity, and the poor implementation of environmental laws, Boracay’s original pristine condition has deteriorated,” explained Cimatu.

Former US Vice President Al Gore, a long-time advocate on climate change, commended the advocates in the summit and gave some encouragement in the midst of the country’s pressing concerns in environment conservation.

“Thanks in large part to so many of you in this room, is now playing a major role in leading the conversation on climate crisis, and taking action to solve it,” said Gore.

Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario, a member of the Congregation of Mission, expressed his concern regarding the alleged accusations of Lumad schools in Mindanao being linked with communist leaders.

“We care for Indigenous People, but we bomb their schools,” lamented Fr. Pilario during his speech and reflection on the Laudato Si.

2018 03 14 philippine environment summit haribon booth in cebu 2

Among the exhibit participants is environmental group Haribon Foundation who championed the Forest Resources Bill during the summit. One of the main provisions of the bill is the campaign on changing the definition of “forests” in current forest laws.

“When we think of forests, we only see the trees. But a forest is composed of more than just trees,” shared Princess Del Castillo from Haribon.

According to Del Castillo, a forest is an ecosystem dominated by trees and other natural vegetation. This consists of a community of plants and animals interacting with one another and its natural environment.

“The country needs about 40% forest cover to sustain ecological processes but we only have 24% left,” cited the foundation.

Haribon’s Forest Resources Bill advocacy is part of a larger campaign aimed at strengthening communities in forest management under the Forest Governance Project by Haribon and BirdLife International, with financial support from the European Union.

Young Cebuanos also chimed in, bringing up Cebu’s own environmental issues on the island province which already holds two of the most densely populated cities outside Metro Manila, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2015.

“…Sa Cebu is isa example, sa amoang place sa Tabunok dili kaayo sya ingon nga makakita ka sa linis kaayo gud pero sa other places like Cagayan, Leyte, and Pampanga they’re very neat unlike here. I think we need to improve (In Cebu, there is an example. In our place in Tabunok we cannot say it is very clean, but places like Cagayan, Leyte, and Pampanga they’re very neat unlike here. I think we need to improve.),” shared Erika dela Torre, student.

The summit which was organized by the Green Convergence network was attended by various civil society organizations, religious groups, government agencies and the academe.

President of the Green Convergence network, Dr. Angelina Galang, shared further background on the event.

“These summits were organized to broadcast the message. This is a celebration of the environmental movement,” shared Galang during the opening ceremony.

Galang added, “Saving the eagle means saving the forests that are its home. Saving its forest home means conserving soil, preventing floods, ensuring that water flows freely from our springs and in our rivers.”

“When we have good soil and water we have good harvest, and we have a healthy society. Farmers have good income,” shared Galang.

She further emphasized one of the main goals of Green Convergence and of the summit, which was to accomplish what she phrased “the triple bottom line” when the environment is properly protected.

“Integrity of nature, sustainable economy, social justice,” Galang concluded.

The Philippine Environment Summit occurs every two years – the first one taking place in Pasay City in 2016.


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