2019 was a huge year for the environment in the Philippines. As a country, we showed we can pull our weight in the global fight for a cleaner and greener world. More importantly, it proved that Filipino environmental efforts could be sustained coming from an amazing 2018.
Here at Flying Ketchup, we celebrate the best of what the Philippines has to offer. 2019 showed just how much the Filipino people value the environment. The fight is far from over, but we’ve made significant strides.
Here’s a rundown of reasons why 2019 was a win, not just for environmental advocates, but for every Filipino!
Coal versus Solar
There is a perception that coal power is cheap. However, the price is steep if you consider its impact to the environment.
Negros has successfully kept the island coal-free, as Negrenses shut down a proposal to establish a coal-fired power plant in their region. They continue to push for renewable energy, and were in the forefront of the sustainability movements throughout the year.
The Negrenses led the charge for sustainability, as they figured prominently during the week-long global strikes for the environment last September. Local groups Youth for Climate Hope (Y4CH) and Power for People Coalition (P4P) kept the flames burning, and have been at the forefront of demanding for more active measures against climate change.
Negros proved to be a shining example, as Occidental Mindoro joined the ranks of other provinces that have banned coal-power just this December. Coal power is now officially banned in Occidental Mindoro, Guimaras, Masbate, Ilocos Norte, Negros Oriental, Bohol, and Sorsogon. What a year, huh?
The private sector is also taking cues from this push for sustainability, as AboitizPower established a subsidiary that focuses on solar power early this year. AboitizPower’s first foray into solar power was in 2016. They established the San Carlos Sun solar farm in Negros Occidental.
And of course, President Duterte put his mandate where his mouth is when he granted Solar Philippines its 25-year franchise, opening the floodgates for a wider embrace of solar energy.
Stronger support from DENR
Key to Filipino environmental efforts in 2019 was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) following through on its commitment to aggressively implement environmental laws. Last January, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu promised to tighten environmental regulations, sending a strong message to environmental offenders.
Utilizing momentum from the very successful Boracay rehabilitation project, DENR set its sights on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. The rehabilitation started last January. The government showed its seriousness, with President Duterte even threatening the closure of hotels and establishments without proper water treatment systems.
The rehabilitation, although far from over, has gained significant ground. Commercial establishments around the bay were also inspected, leading to issuances of over 2,000 notices of violations, and over a hundred cease-and-desist orders.
Smaller environmental initiatives implemented
In addition to the major programs of the DENR, several smaller environmental initiatives and gestures were also conducted this year:
- Luntiang Pilipinas party-list urged Filipinos to stop using plastics, as they held forums and meetings with community leaders early this year
- Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong opted to conduct a tree planting victory party when he won the elections last May
- A school canteen in Negros Occidental promoted a plastic-free culture by providing meals using environment-friendly materials
- A recycling company in Davao City turns trash into school chairs, floor tiles, bricks, planks, and pavers
- Manila Mayor Isko Moreno pushed for renewable energy in all Manila public schools
- A Japanese National went viral as he cleaned the streets of Baguio City, calling on others to do the same
- Cebuano researcher Denxybel Montinola invented bioplastic made from mango peels and seaweed
Working for a sustainable future
The Philippines might have won the battle this 2019, but the war against climate change is far from over. The tireless efforts of our fellow countrymen have laid the foundations this year. It starts with awareness – people are working for a more sustainable future, and we all must do our part.
We are looking forward to even bigger Filipino environmental efforts, and a cleaner and greener 2020. This momentum must be sustained, for a #BetterPhilippines!