Next DENR Secretary should be an environment champion, not a bureaucrat

Gaea Katreena Cabico - - June 16, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The next environment secretary should be a champion for conservation and protector of environment defenders, green groups said Thursday as they stressed risks brought by the climate crisis.

In a joint statement, the organizations urged President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to appoint an environment secretary who will bring about transformative change to the department mandated to manage the country’s natural resources and ensure a healthful ecology for all Filipinos.

“It can no longer be business as usual,” they said.

Signatories include Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Earth Island Institute Philippines, The Manila Observatory, Kids for Kids, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, and Living Laudato Si'.

The DENR under the Duterte administration focused on rehabilitating Boracay island and other tourist destinations, cleaning degraded waterways such as Manila Bay, and improving the management of solid waste.

Why is this important?

Forest loss persists in the country, with only 3% of the primary forests left.

As an archipelagic nation, the Philippines is one the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts such as strong cyclones, flooding and sea level rise, which disproportionately affect the poor.

The Philippines has also been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous counties for environmental and land activists.

"More than being a regulator or bureaucrat, the environment secretary must be a fierce, progressive, and passionate champion of the conservation of forests and biodiversity, the protection of environment defenders, and the enforcement of environmental laws, over and above the interests of a few," the groups said.

News article originally posted at the Philippine Star.