Philippines: Hope at last?

07 September 2010 | News story

On the 30th June Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino III was elected President of the Philippines. He is the only son of former president Corazon Aquino and her husband, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino II, both revered for leading the struggle to restore democracy in the archipelago of over 7,000 islands and 90 million people.

His father was shot dead at Manila airport in 1983 as he returned from exile in the US to lead the democracy movement against Ferdinand Marcos. The new president's mother took over from her husband and led the "People Power" revolution that overthrew Marcos in 1986, and then earned a reputation as an incorruptible leader during six years as president. Benigno was also shot during one of several military coups attempted against his mother so he knows what violence can do.


In his first speech as president, Aquino told hundreds of thousands of people he would deliver on his promise to tackle entrenched corruption and said he would fight poverty, improve the investment climate, and seek a just resolution to a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency in the south of the poor, mainly Catholic nation.


"My parents sought nothing less, and died for nothing less, than democracy, peace and prosperity. “


These sentiments give hope to SEAPRISE members who been struggling for many years to help stop the mining industry from destroying the last remaining forests, (only about 4% of the tropical rainforest forests that existed 100 years ago remain in the Philippines to-day). Environmental damage is often accompanied by human rights abuse. Mines are also damaging water catchments, fresh water systems, marine eco systems and the lives of many people who depend upon them particularly the indigenous people who depend upon who conserve and depend sustainable natural resources for survival. Many people including a bishop and many religious leaders have been murdered protesting against mining projects including 8 community activists who were working with the groups that the SEAPRISE team were trying to help.
It remains to be seen if the new President can convert his speeches into action and stop the environmental damage, corruption and violence that has been taking place but everyone hopes that things will improve for the sake of all Filipino's. Note: This article does not in any way imply CEESP or IUCN support for any Political party or politician.


Clive Wicks