Environment Management Office Head Wilfred Ramon Peñalosa (center) receives the Allen S. Quimpo Climate Reality Leadership for Governance Award for Negros Occidental from The Climate Reality Project Philippines head Rodne Galicha (right), Climate Change Commissioner Rachel Herera (second from right), and representatives of Quimpo family in rites held at the National Museum of Natural History in Manila Monday night.
MANILA - The provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental were among the champions of environmental causes and movers of climate change mitigation recognized by The Climate Reality Project during its 2018 Leadership Awards held at the National Museum of Natural History here Monday night.
The two provinces received the Allen S. Quimpo Climate Leadership for Governance Memorial Award, which is given to all local government units (LGUS) in the country committed to embrace renewable energy and currently hosting renewable energy (RE) plants and farms in their respective localities.
For Negros Occidental, the award was received by Provincial Environment Management Office (Pemo) head Wilfred Ramon Peñalosa from Climate Reality Project Philippines head
Rodne Galicha and Commissioner Rachel Herera of the Climate Change Commission along with the Quimpo family.
Peñalosa, at the sidelines of the awarding rites, said the award recognizes the effort of the provincial government as well as its consistent stand on environment conservation, protection, rehabilitation, and restoration.
Peñalosa said this is also the result of the synergy of the government, media, academe, and church in terms of pushing for environmental programs that will impact the entire province.
“What is really more evident is the cooperation among all different sectors in terms of advocating for a greener environment for Negros,” he said, adding that “involving more people is something that we need to further workout.”
The Pemo head also stressed that more sectors and people working together for the conservation, protection, and restoration of the environment will result in bigger ripples of impact.
When asked about the entry of coal-fired power plant in the province, Peñalosa said Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. already made a stand even two to three years ago that they want a green energy development program for Negros Occidental.
“We are not preventing them from applying, but the plan of the governor is really to push for a green province,” he added.
It can be recalled that San Miguel Corporation has expressed its intention to put up a coal-fired power plant in two barangays of San Carlos City.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson confirmed that, in fact, the Sangguniang Panlungsod has already approved a resolution endorsing the project. Though, it has not yet reached the Provincial Board.
Now on its second year, the activity is spearheaded by the Philippine mission of The Climate Reality Project, the pioneering non-profit organization established by world-renowned climate proponent Nobel Laureate and former United States vice president Al Gore.
The Climate Reality Leadership Awards is the group’s latest flagship advocacy program aside from its Let’s Talk Cleaner Energy campaign and other high-level climate policy lobbying and community empowerment initiatives in the grassroots and youth sectors.
Galicha, an environmentalist and human rights advocate, told Sunstar Bacolod that the program recognizes outstanding Filipino individuals, organizations, networks and initiatives that have been catalyzing global solutions to the climate crisis by making the urgent action a necessity across every level of society.
“We salute these individuals and organizations for taking on the challenge of mitigating global warming and climate change, not just through strong opposition against destructive environmental practices but also through proactive solutions that ensure sustainable progress for the current and future generations,” he added.
For Negros Oriental, the award was received by Governor Roel Degamo who said that the recognition boosts the morale of local legislators to really find time to protect the environment.
Degamo, in his speech, took pride that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Oriental has already adapted Executive Order No. 9 preventing the entry of coal-fired power plants in the province.
He appealed to other LGUS to follow the move before it gets too late, stressing that environmental protection
and conservation is a must.
“Even under a federal form government, for as long as we are still part of it, I will continue to oppose coal-fired power plants in the region. It is really bad for the environment,” Degamo added.
The Municipal Government of Valencia in Negros Oriental also received the Allen S. Quimpo Climate Leadership for Governance Memorial Award.
Aside from Negros LGUS, four Negrenses were also recognized by The Climate Reality Project for doing environment protection and conservation measures and endeavors in their respective fields.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos received the Luntiang Panagtitipon Award while Arturo Alvarez, national program director of Let’s Do It Philippines, was given the Miguel R. Magalang Climate Reality Project Memorial Award.
Other Negrenses including columnist and environment advocate Errol Abada Gatumbato and Jolly Gariando, principal of Florentino Galang Sr. National High School in Kabankalan City, were also recognized as nominees.
Alminaza, who earlier signed a position paper opposing the plan to put up a 300megawatt coal plant in San Carlos, said the award came at a time when there is a need for wider public support for the collective stand to keep the whole Negros Island green, environment-friendly and coalfree.
Alminaza is appealing to the voters to do all they can to make all candidates know that “it is our demand” to keep the island coal-free and committed to respecting the vision and responsibility for the next generation.
“I make a passionate plea to the Christian conscience, kind heart and good will of our government leaders, politicians running for public office, big landowners and business people to put our planet and people first before profit,” he said, adding that “they should use their power, authority and wealth in investments that will safeguard and protect our common home - our environment.”
Moreover, the seven recipients from Negros are just among the awardees and nominees from all over the country this year.
Gore, in a statement, congratulated them for being an inspiration for him to keep pushing ahead in the collective fight to solve the climate crisis.
“Last month, the world’s leading scientific experts provided yet another stark reminder that we must act urgently to transition away from an economy based on fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future,” Gore said.
He added that “with the Paris Agreement, we chose the right path forward to achieve a global clean energy economy, but now we have to ratchet up these commitments and act with greater urgency.”*
Diocese of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza (center) receives the “Luntiang Panagtitipon” Award from The Climate Reality Project Philippines officials led by head Rodne Galicha (left) in rites held at the National Museum of Natural History in Manila Monday night.