‘CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT GEARS UP ITS RENEWABLES CAMPAIGN IN THE VISAYAS’, by Malu E. Gacuma-Gancayco (Feb. 9, 2017), Negros Daily Bulletin

Whipping up the momentum gained as the country with the highest no. of Acts of Leadership for the whole of 2016, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines held a series of conferences in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao aptly titled 2017 Assemblies: Assessment, Planning and Strategy Consultation “.

Any pro-environment activity conducted is considered an act of leadership. These are logged by more than ten thousand environmentalists trained by CRP founder and former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Al Gore, from around the world on their online hub. They are  encouraged to do at least 10 activities each year to help intensify the environmental campaign specifically against climate change.

CRP-Phils. Country Manager Rodne Rodiño Galicha presented salient topics mostly centered on renewables and the great advantages these have to offer to the country.

Joining them were Manila-based guest speakers, DENR Undersecretary Art Valdez and former National Renewable Energy Board Chairman Pete H. Maniego (now Sr. Policy Advisor of ICSC or Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.)

Also sharing their expertise on the topic were Dr. Al Orolfo, DENR-Negros Island Region (NIR)’s Regional Director and Edgardo M. Rostata (Chief Officer of CENRO).

Undersecretary.Valdez did not spare any good words about the National Greening Program. He described it simply: “Its performance was not satisfying.” (A very polite way of saying it failed.)  He added, “I will not apologize for DENR.  So many deserved to be kicked out!””

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Guest Speaker  : Undersecretary Art Valdez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

He confirmed the good news about the dismantling of fish pens at the Laguna Lake aimed to restore the livelihood of the smaller fishermen.He called it ‘an act of rectifying social justice’ resounding DENR Sec. Gina Lopez’s conviction of ‘ empowering the masses against kingpins, etc.”

He narrated an incidence in Mt.Banahaw where the “National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) led the inquest against mining culprits but the Governor and Congressman there wanted to have the NBI personnel relieved for doing a good job!”

Another incidence that stirred indignation was, as he narrated ,”A certain Cervantes who ordered to get rid of a 5-hectare-mangrove site to convert it to a subdivision.” Seeking help from authorities, he said “assigned PNP in their area were  adamant and did not show up”.

He said this infuriated DENR Sec,Gina Lopez who wanted to go to the site personally but was stopped by Valdez. He said “All it took to solve the problem were Marines, the Coast Guard and 6×6 trucks with NBI picking up the businessman Cervantes.” This again earned an applause.

He later ended his remarks with a very reassuring line that earned him  an applause from the attendees.  He said, “Now that we are more part of the solution, you will find a strong partnership with DENR!”

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Guest Speaker: Pete H.Maniego,Jr. former National Renewable Energy Board Chairman and now Senior Policy  Advisor of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

ICSC’s Maniego, for his part gave all the needed statistics and talked lengthily about the significant development of the renewable energy sector of the country. He underscored that consumers must not bear the pass-on burden in the fuel industry, as what is happening now. He also explained why and how the use of solar panels can put Negros, or the Philippines for that matter, on the winning edge.

For his part, DENR-NIR’s Orolfo announced the availability of 450,000 seedlings every week produced by  the DENR regional office which can be accessed by various NGOs for free for their treeplanting projects in and around  the province.

He dissected the strengths and weaknesses of Negros province and NIR in the battle against climate change. Quoting statistical date from memory, he also shared a strong optimism about the would-be success of ” the 5-year NIR Biodiversity plan of which the blueprint is currently under works so that ‘fragmented habitats can be eradicated.”

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Guest Speaker: Dr. Al Orolfo, Regional Director , Dept.of Environment and Natural Resources- Negros Island Region

As a response to DENR Sec. Lopez’s request which he described as putting a ‘Wow!  factor” to their public service, he also confirmed the ‘Adopt-A -Watershed’ campaign being offered to dioceses at par with the ‘5-Year-Cave Management Plan’ because “caves are crucial to watershed’ , he added.

He enjoined all community leaders to be vigilant against environmental abusers ” to lessen the tragedy of the commons” His best assurance for the day was a definite one,”We will, we can!”

Finally CENRO’s Rostata said their priority now at CENRO focuses more on law enforcement and strengthening community participation against local quarrying, illegal logging and mining operations. They also recently launched ‘Geo-Tagging’ project using various apps to report illegal environmental activities. The apps, he said , “are equipped with longitude and latitude details that enter our server to zero in the locations where the crimes are committed and help us track down the culprits.”

He said that they had also launched 10 ‘Bantay Gubat’ staff for every barangay in Cadiz City of which PENRO provides the technical assistance.

Finally , TCRP’s Rodne Galicha presented a rundown of his hometown Sibuyan’s achievement in the renewables industry and peppered this with a very entertaining 25- seconder video titled     ‘Would You Rather’, showing the viewer two options to choose from (the upside or the downside of climate change).

The event was capped by both Galicha and Sheila Castillo (CRP Mentor) consolidating all of the delegates’  proposals, observation and suggestions. These were capsulized into an outline of their pro-renewables agenda aligned with the global campaign against climate change.

The event ended with a group picture-taking for posterity. Also given earlier were mugs (with CRP logo) and ‘Let’s Talk Cleaner Energy’ Tee-shirts and masks.

The assembly was attended by Augustinian priest Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA,Olive Seruelo (PEMO Information Officer), Malu Gacuma-Gancayco (Project Organizer of Ecological Society of the Philippines), Claudia G.Gancayco (youth CRP leader from University of St.La Salle), Dann Diez (founder of Let’s Do It,Phils.), Art Alvarez (Project Organizer, LDI Phils.) former print journalist  Nereo Lujan and Honey Beso (both from the Iloilo provincial government) and  Luisa Tutor of PEMO, among others.

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