CEBU’S parishes and church offices are switching their lights off for an hour on Saturday, March 27, to support a worldwide effort to make people aware of climate change.

Some candidates in Mandaue and Talisay cities also promised to join Earth Hour, even if it means pausing in the middle of their campaign. The official campaign season for local candidates begins on March 26.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal recently issued a circular, asking all parishes and church institutions to join the annual event, reported the archdiocesan newsletter “Ang Bag-ong Lungsuranon.”

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Msgr. Esteban Binghay said the church is taking a more active role in environmental protection and awareness this year; he also said the Archdiocese has been joining Earth Hour since 2007.

Participants will switch off their lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Aside from the Catholic Church, the Department of Energy (DOE) and other environmental organizations are urging citizens to join Earth Hour. The global target is one billion participants.

Talisay

Administration candidates in Talisay City said they will observe Earth Hour even if they are caught in the middle of their campaign.

“If we are caught in our campaign sortie in the barangays, we will stop the program and switch off the lights,” said Councilor Bernard Joseph Odilao.

Odilao was the environment committee chairman before the City Council approved a controversial motion declaring all the committee chairmanships vacant last Tuesday.

Despite the change, Odilao said he is bent on re-filing his two proposed measures supporting Earth Hour.

Resolution 2010-11-11 encourages all city officials and employees to practice electricity and fuel-saving measures in their workplaces from March 22 to 26.

His second proposal encourages the city’s 22 barangays to fully support Earth Hour by switching off their lights at the appointed time on March 27.

The resolution is addressed to barangay halls, households, schools and businesses in Talisay City.

“This simple act of turning off lights for one hour, if done collectively, can significantly save power consumption and lead to more ideas for meaningful unified actions against climate change,” the resolution said.

Odilao said the Philippines placed first worldwide in terms of public participation in the last two years’ observance of Earth Hour.

Mandaue

Candidates in Mandaue City also promised to support Earth Hour by switching off their lights and paying more attention to environmental concerns.

Like last year, Mayor Jonas Cortes will lead the ceremonial power switch-off at City Hall during the event.

Cortes and his challenger, Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, both revealed plans for Butuanon River. Ruiz said she plans to build a park, while Cortes wants a boulevard along the riverbank.

Reelectionist Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna said he will focus on policies and laws that will reduce carbon monoxide emissions of vehicles.

Ruiz said she would like Butuanon River rehabilitated and parks opened to complement the river view. Ruiz said she will also regulate water extraction, enforce 24/7 garbage collection and adopt a permanent solution to the dumpsite problem.

Cortes said a boulevard along the river will decongest traffic and clear the riverbanks of informal settlers. He said he will also reinforce “eco-wardens” whose role is to implement environmental laws. He is studying the possibility of privatizing garbage collection.

Fortuna said he will help reduce carbon emissions by promoting anti-smoke belching programs, motorcycle conversions, “synchronized traffic signals and continuous road facilities to minimize stopping and idling at intersections.”