Privilege Speech delivered August 13, 2012
I rise to avail of the privilege hour to share to my colleagues the message of the students who are with us today.
In the gallery are a hundred students from Sophia School in Meycauayan, Bulacan. Sa kabila po ng matinding baha na tumama sa kanila nitong nakaraang linggo, pinilit po nilang pumunta dito para magpaabot ng isang mensahe.
Mr. Speaker, almost a hundred people have already died from the floods and devastation wrought by the rains last week. Wala pa hong bagyo yun, habagat lang.
Sixteen provinces and more than three million people were affected by a mere wet spell. Until now, flood water in various places have yet to recede but we are already looking at a new low pressure area in the Philippine’s area of responsibility.
Dahil po sa climate change, mas malakas na ang buhos ng tubig sa tag-ulan at mas mainit ang tag-araw.
Our geography has always caused us weather problems but year after year it has worsened due to climate change. This is not surprising anymore as the Philippines has long been cited among the most vulnerable countries affected by climate change. The recent report by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the German Alliance Development Works listed the Philippines as top 3 among countries facing the highest risk against climate change.
The logical question that should be asked, is, how do we mitigate, if not stop climate change?
This is the message that our students bring with them today. Their call is “Fight climate change one plate at a time.”
Yes, one plate at a time.
Most of us may not know it, I myself was surprised to learn, that changing our diet from meat to vegetables and other plant-based food can reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are the main cause of climate change.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry was responsible for at least 7.516 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2006 alone, or 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. In an updated calculation by World Watch Institute, the estimate is that the livestock industry and their byproducts account for 51% of total greenhouse gas emissions, or 32.56 billion tons a year.
Aside from these, grazing areas for livestock and sourcing of animal feed clear three million hectares of forest a year, which would otherwise have absorbed carbon emissions.
That is why eating less meat and more vegetables is not only good for the body, its also good for the planet.
And how can we eat more vegetables and thus help fight climate change? Well, by doing it one plate at a time.
In Sophia school which our guest students attend, they have adopted a program called Meatless Mondays which originated from a joint effort of the John Hopkins and Columbia University Schools of Public Health. Sa Tagalog po tinatawag itong Luntiang Lunes.
Under the program, students are encouraged to eat plant-based foods by requiring the school canteen to serve only vegetables and plant-based dishes on Mondays.
According to “Luntiang Lunes” founder and neuroscientist Dr. Custer C. Deocaris who is here with us today, “as dietary behavior is the most difficult habit to change, most health promotion campaigns fail due to lack of compliance component for setting realistic goals and reinforcements.”
Monday, among the days of the week, may possess the greatest potential to serve as tool to bolster long-term campaigns because it is considered a planning and anticipation day. Recurrence of the campaign on Mondays reminds participants to keep up with the program. At the same time, Monday as a planning and anticipation day may help facilitate habit formation.
The Luntiang Lunes campaign serves two purposes. It seeks to promote healthy eating habits as well as help ease the effects of climate change.
According to the local proponents of the campaign, it is estimated that the Meatless Monday campaign, when practiced by 25.7 million Filipino students in a span of one year, could have the same beneficial effects on CO2 emission as taking 94,392 cars off the road or having 12.35 million trees planted and grown for 10 years.
At the same time, it aims to address the double disease burden of child malnutrition and adult obesity. According to a 2008 study by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute, a quarter of adult Filipinos are already hypertensive and 7 million are diagnosed with diabetes, making the Philippines one of the world’s top ten epicenters of the disease. Each year, 200,000 Filipinos die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with heart diseases as the leading cause of death. Long-term health care costs for NCDs are staggering. They also undermine the country’s economic development.
The recent statement by the American Dietetic Association recognize that reduced meat consumption decreases the risk of various health problems, stating: “Scientific data suggests positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes and some types of cancers.”
A knowledge or information campaign alone is insufficient to improve vegetable intake among the young people. A required, integrated, institutionalized and sustainable dietary strategy like Luntiang Lunes in schools would present as a productive and effective instrument.
And so our students have come here today to express support to a bill that we filed which seeks to institutionalize Luntiang Lunes in our elementary and high schools.
May mga panahon na tayong matatanda ay dalat makinig sa mga bata. Siguro ngayon ang panahong yon. Pakinggan natin sila sa kanilang mensahe para sa kanilang kinabukasan. Let us fight climate change one plate at a time, let us pass the Luntiang Lunes Bill.
Maraming salamat po.#