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Miriam calls on rivals to protect environment

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Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, the presidential candidate named the “greenest” by environment advocates, urged her rivals on Friday to adopt a people-centered approach in their environment, climate change, and disaster risk reduction platforms.

“We are resource-rich but income-poor, partly because we view environmental protection as a roadblock to development. That should not be the case. What we are doing is ensuring that whatever gains we get now will be enjoyed by generations to come,” Santiago said in time for Earth Day.

The senator’s statement comes amid accolades from at least three coalitions of environment groups for championing resource conservation, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction in her program of government.

Santiago was named the “greenest candidate” by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment for her track record. The same group named Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas the “meanest” to the environment.

She was also lauded by a green group initiative called Luntiang Bayan: Boto Para sa Tao, Hayop at Kalikasan as the presidential candidate who has done the most for the environment, citing the numerous laws and bills she drafted.

The senator also topped the scorecards launched by the Green Thumb Coalition on Friday, bagging 79 percent in “people-centered sustainable development,” 78 percent in “human rights and integrity of creation,” and 50 percent in “climate justice.”

In her platform of government, Santiago highlighted the need for evidence-based planning. “To combat climate change, we must practice both mitigation and adaptation, and our decisions must be based on data and science,” she added.

Santiago also vowed to capacitate local government units to better implement environment protection, climate change and disaster risk reduction programs; take advantage of indigenous knowledge; and foster transparency in the sector.

The senator also wants to revisit the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which she said allowed the market to dictate the country’s energy mix, and the Mining Act, citing research that the cost of mining activities outweighs the benefits.

“As president, I will fully and wholeheartedly implement the Renewable Energy Act, which I authored and sponsored in the Senate. The law is not working as it should be. It has been in operation for six years, but action has been slow, and our renewable energy supply remains small,” Santiago said. ###