OCEANA’S STATEMENT FOR NATIONAL AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND POLL CANDIDATES: ENSURE A HEALTHY AND RESILIENT OCEAN AND PEOPLE
Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President
Press Release Date: January 28, 2022
For a biodiversity-rich country, the Philippines is notable for its strong legal framework for environmental protection and response to the climate crisis. Our laws require ecosystem-based management from ridge to reef. Despite this, its fragile natural ecosystems continue to suffer from natural resource overexploitation and unsustainable development practices as implementation of our laws is weak.
The state of our ocean is no different. Destructive activities such as dump-and-fill (reclamation) projects, pollution, illegal fishing practices, among others, remain unabated resulting in a serious and alarming decline of coral reefs, mangroves and fisheries resources.
Thus, urgent action for environmental protection, preservation, and restoration should be at the forefront of the agenda of all our Filipino leaders, including those who are seeking national and local offices in the May 2022 elections. Along with the staggering impacts of climate change, the country has to respond immediately and mainstream the health and resilience of our natural ecosystems and people by ensuring science-based management through a just, inclusive, transparent and accountable governance of the natural world. It is high time that decision-makers and citizens alike take a proactive stance when it comes to environmental protection, instead of the usual knee-jerk and short-term solutions. Preparing for natural disasters as devastating as Typhoon Odette means taking climate change and other pressing environmental problems seriously now – more than ever.
Our government leaders and elective candidates must ensure the protection of every Filipinos’ right to a balanced and healthful ecology as guaranteed in the 1987 Constitution and collaborate with the various sectors. They should also remain committed to protecting the nation’s marine wealth, including the preferential rights of subsistence fisherfolks of municipal fishing grounds, within our territorial waters.
Therefore, our present and future leaders at the national and local levels must accord top priority to food and nutritional security through sustainable, science-based and ecosystem approach to fisheries management in the country. Participatory approaches must be taken so that all key stakeholders such as civil society, fisherfolk, women, youth and private sectors, are part of the decision-making processes. There must be strict enforcement of our environmental laws aimed at deterring unsustainable fishing practices, destructive offshore and onshore mining activities, and unbridled development projects that continue to diminish and destroy our natural resource wealth and make us extremely vulnerable to climate change.
In the end, the health of our environment and care for our people cannot be taken out of the equation of every leader’s approach towards a more responsive, accountable, participatory and transparent governance including that for our ocean upon which majority of our people depend on for sustenance
It must be emphasized that ensuring a healthy, safe and resilient ocean is both a right and a duty of each citizen.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources. (END)
For more information:
Joyce Sierra, Communications Manager, Oceana
Mobile: 09178214430 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org