“If newly appointed Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga is true to her words, then she should start her term by halting destructive reclamation, big mining and mega dam projects that threaten our biodiversity, exacerbate disaster risks, and affect the livelihood of the people,” said Jonallin Yang, Secretary-General of scientist group AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.
In her speech during the turnover ceremony of leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga declared that under her administration, the DENR would be open to consultations with civil society and other sectors, and that policies and programs implemented by the agency are science-based and evidence-informed [1, 2]. “Such statements are welcome,” added Yang. “For years, AGHAM and other environmental and people’s organizations have warned against the negative effects of environmentally destructive projects, yet the previous DENR administration refused to listen to us. In particular, AGHAM’s study with geologists from the University of the Philippines showed that the site of the New Manila International Airport of San Miguel Corporation is not suitable for such large infrastructure as it faces various hazards such as storm surge, ground shaking, and liquefaction that will put people’s lives and properties in harm’s way. We’ve also warned against other reclamation projects in the country that threaten coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests. Currently, mangroves in Bulacan and coral reefs in Coron, Palawan have already been destroyed due to reclamation. DENR should not allow the approval of at least 187 reclamation projects in the country as this will have grave consequences on our declining fisheries production.”
Yang further warned against mega dam construction and mining operations that continue to threaten indigenous people’s communities. “Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga promised to protect indigenous fauna and flora species . However, she should also include indigenous peoples’ communities as they are our environment’s first line of defense. These environmental defenders are stewards of our mountains and rivers, and their rights to their ancestral domain must be respected. Currently, indigenous peoples in various parts of the country are being harassed and displaced by the military to pave the way to mega dams and mining operations. If Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga is true to her words, she must listen to the calls of the indigenous peoples.”
“If the DENR is genuine in their plans to mitigate climate change , they should crack down these destructive projects. As long as these big-ticket projects remain in the pipeline, our environment will remain threatened. We expect that the new DENR Secretary would implement scientific programs in conserving the environment and reducing our vulnerability to the climate crisis. DENR should start listening to science instead of corporate greed,” Yang ended.