Saturday, August 11, 2018

REDS CLAIM ‘Marañon anti-environment’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 11): REDS CLAIM ‘Marañon anti-environment’

The National Democratic Front‒Negros disputed the recognition given to Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon as “champion of the environment”.

He (Marañon) is most undeserving of this title and the broad masses do not owe him any gratitude for his contributions to the social, economic and environmental destruction of Negros, Frank Fernandez, NDF-Negros spokesperson said, in a statement he issued.

Marañon recently received the People’s Gratitude Movement award from the United Nations Environmental Programme during a recognition ceremony for Outstanding Contributions to the Environment at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

The award was in recognition of the governor’s contributions to the conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the environment, the UNEP award said.

The governor, who was one of the six awardees from the Philippines, was recognized for his initiatives over the years as mayor of Sagay City, congressman and governor of Negros Occidental, and as one of the founding members of the Visayan Sea Squadron.

His initiatives such the establishment of the 32,000-hectare Sagay Marine Reserve, the creation of Task Force Lawod which aims to protect the coastal waters of the province, and the rehabilitation of coastal resources through the establishment of the Blue Swimming Crab Hatchery and Seeding, resulted in the increase of economic opportunities for the marginal fisherfolk in the province, were noted.

Fernandez, however, accused Marañon of opening Negros to private and foreign companies who denuded the island's mountains and forests, hazardously extracted mineral resources and polluted its rivers, watersheds and seas.

The provincial government under Marañon uses deception and force in implementing its anti-people and anti-environment projects, Fernandez further claimed, noting also that it engages in pro-environment gimmickry to attract support especially from the middle class.

However, world-renowned environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa said that the award is a testament of the governor’s commitment and passion for the environment and is a very good example that people should look up to.

Fernandez further insisted that Marañon is an environment devastation advocate for supporting land conversions that harm the peasants' livelihood and the environment, citing the provincial government’s project, Negros First Ranch, in Murcia, that caused dislocation of farmers from their farms.

Instead of protecting the environment and people's rights, Marañon is siding with his Japanese clients, in connection with the construction of a ship recycling facility in Hinobaan, and is insisting on the illegality of the Department of Agrarian Reform's distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership to the farmers, the rebel priest added.

The $300-million ship recycling facility will surely destroy the surrounding ecology covering 15,000 mangroves and deprive the fisherfolk of their fishing grounds, Fernandez also claimed.

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