Green groups unsatisfied with PNoy’s performance

ANOTHER sector gives the President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III a failing mark.

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) rated the performance of President Aquino in his first 100 days as dismal, saying he failed to meaningfully initiate and act decisively to protect the Philippine ecosystem.

Kalikasan PNE revealed that they were expecting from the new Aquino administration to differ in approach from the previous Arroyo administration and reverse the policies that run counter to environmental protection and conservation.

“In the first three months, President Aquino was unable to provide a clear and comprehensive environmental agenda on how the government will rehabilitate the local ecosystems and reverse the environmental degradation in the country. He even did not fulfill the positive promises he set out during his campaign,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan PNE.

During the campaign period, Mr. Aquino promised to review all current mining projects in the country and to designate a genuine environmental advocate as secretary of the Department Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).

The group noted that, contrary to his promise, no single mining project were reviewed up to this date and even the  even the so-called midnight mining deals that were dubiously approved few months before then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stepped down were not investigated by the new administration.

In the last few months of President Arroyo, the DENR approved 13 Exploration Permit (EP), 21 Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), and 2 Financial and Technical Sharing Agreement (FTAA) from April 29, 2010 to June 29, 2010.

Some of these shady deals include the mining concessions given to Canadian mining company MBMI Resources Inc. (MBMI) and Altamira Exploration and resources, Inc. that cover a total of 19,000 hectares of land in the pristine environment of Palawan province. Also MPSAs covering 53,624 hectares of offshore area in Cagayan province were given to four foreign and private corporations in June 9, 2010. None of these mining projects were investigated.

“Another indication of Aquino’s anti-environment orientation is the appointment of Ramon Paje, former Executive Director of Mining Development Council (MDC) and Presidential Adviser on Mining, as secretary of the DENR.” said Bautista.

One of top architects of mining liberalization of the previous Arroyo administration, Paje allegedly led in the promotion of large-scale mining in the country.

In a statement, Defend Patrimony Alliance, a multi-sectoral alliance, reported that the new administration also failed on environmental justice issue.

According to Defend Patrimony, human rights violations and threats to the safety of environmental advocates still persist under the Aquino administration.

The group said that President Aquino also kept mum on the issue of toxic contamination and deaths in the former US  military bases in the Philippines when he recently met with US President Barak Obama.

“The  Aquino Administration is just continuing the old liberalization policies, programs, and projects of the environmentally destructive Arroyo Administration,” ended Bautista.  D’Jay Lazaro

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