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Will Filipinos Elect A ‘Green’ President In 2010?

July 14, 2009


Are Filipinos ready to install a third female President?

More specifically will Filipinos elect a Filipina running on a Green (pro-environment) platform with prevention and management of natural disasters as its cornerstone?

I’m positing these questions in the light of this Philippine Star report:

MALE, Maldives – Speaking as a “champion” for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Sen. Loren Legarda declared here yesterday her presidential bid for 2010, which she hopes to use as a political platform for mobilizing the global community in mitigating the impact of climate change.
Legarda made the pronouncements at a formal dinner here with officials.
“I can only do this if I am the president of my country,” Legarda told her audience, which included a dozen Filipino workers employed at the Bandos Resort Island, one of the 1,192 islands that comprise the Republic of Maldives.
“Politics is a necessary platform,” she said.
Legarda has consistently topped mock polls but has slipped in the latest surveys of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
She conceded it was due to her involvement with the UNISDR that required frequent foreign trips.
Legarda, who belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), is set to sit down this week with deposed President Joseph Estrada to discuss their possible political alliance for next year’s elections.
Estrada has repeatedly called on opposition presidential wannabes to agree to a common candidate or he would be compelled to run again for president.
The senator is currently here on a mission for the UNISDR to organize a “Leaders’ Forum” for climate change for the 10 most vulnerable countries that includes the Philippines and Maldives.
The Maldives government is co-organizing the Leaders’ Forum on climate change dubbed as “V-10” or short for the 10 most vulnerable countries.
It is tentatively scheduled for September here with former US Vice President Al Gore and ex-UN secretary-general Kofi Annan among the invited speakers. Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his environment advocacy while Annan is currently engaged in the Global Humanitarian Forum waging an international campaign for “climate justice.”
In preparation for the scheduled V-10 Leaders’ Forum, Legarda met with top government officials here led by Maldives’ first democratically-elected President Mohamed Nasheed. She discussed with him the progress of the UN-led efforts to rebuild this Indian Ocean country after the Dec.26, 2004 tsunami that nearly wiped out many of its islands and left 82 Maldivians dead and 26 missing.
“In my visit to the Maldives, I have witnessed the country’s innovative move on climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as on disaster risk reduction,” she said.
“I admire the Maldivian leaders for their bold and sophisticated approach to secure their country and their people,” Legarda cited.
Legarda challenged world leaders to learn from the example of the Maldives in helping safeguard the right to life of people living in small islands.
“This is why I call upon everybody, on world leaders who have the power and responsibility over their people, to the people who have control on their own actions. Heed the call of these vulnerable countries for immediate action,” she said.
“Re-think development to address growing disaster risks and its human rights implications, and the time to do it is now,” she said.
Legarda earned the support of President Nasheed for her proposed Climate Alliance to Re-think Development or CARD.
Immediately after his assumption into office in November last year, Nasheed adopted a national policy of a “carbon-neutral economy,” which involves sustaining economic growth for the next 10 years using only environment-friendly measures, from tree-planting to river clean-up, proper waste disposal, among other measures.
“We need to focus on what should be done, like moving towards a low-carbon economy and risk-reducing adaptation instead of arguing on what shouldn’t be done which has characterized the climate change negotiations,” Nasheed pointed out.
It was during her one-on-one meeting with Nasheed at the Presidential Palace in the capital city of Male, that she proposed the creation of CARD.
Legarda said the CARD core group should include Bhutan, which is threatened with inundation due to the melting glaciers; and Kiribati, whose government has encouraged its people to migrate to other countries as islands disappear.
“We’re small islands, small voices but will take bold actions to save our islands from the effects of climate change,” she told the Maldives head of government.
Recognizing the need for funds for effective disaster risk reduction activities, Legarda recommended ways to mobilize resources during the 3rd Asian Ministerial Conference held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November last year. It was on the same occasion that Legarda was formally appointed as UNISDR Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.

As a further background, the UNISDR program Sen. Legarda cited has these strategic objectives:

(a) The more effective integration of disaster risk considerations into sustainable
development policies, planning and programming at all levels, with a special emphasis on
disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and vulnerability reduction;
(b) The development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities at all levels, in particular at the community level, that can systematically contribute to building resilience7 to hazards;
(c) The systematic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into the design and implementation of emergency preparedness, response and recovery programmes in the reconstruction of affected communities.implementation of emergency preparedness,

To fair to Sen. Legarda, anchoring her presidential bid on such an important global initiative merits serious consideration  by Filipinos given how the Philippines seasonally loses hundreds of millions of pesos in lost crops and damaged public and private property from typhoons and earthquakes along with the heavy toll on human lives.

This writer was fortunate to be among those invited to a private celebratory lunch hosted by the good lady Senator recently and she did exude genuine concern for bettering the lot of our masses.

Even then she hinted at the possibility of linking up politically with former president Estrada.

Having confirmed this likelihood now, I wonder what tandem it could be: a Legard-Estrada ticket or an Estrada-Legarda pairing?

I’m still scratching my head.

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