MOST of the local candidates are joining tonight’s Earth Hour and have identified priority programs to promote environmental protection.

In Lapu-Lapu City, the three mayoral aspirants said they will focus on setting up a solid waste disposal system for the island-city, which relies on tourism as an economic driver.

Councilor Junard Chan of the Nacionalista Party and First Lady Paz Radaza of Lakas-Kampi-CMD said they will switch off lights in their homes and urge their supporters and political leaders to do the same.

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Liberal Party’s Efrain Pelaez Jr. said he will advise his supporters and concessionaires of two malls that he owns to turn their lights off.

He also wants proper waste disposal, segregation and regular pickups. Radaza said she will request that the solid waste disposal compound temporarily stop operating today to ensure less power consumption.

She will also push for the protection of the city’s seven marine sanctuaries.

Chan wants the construction of a sewerage treatment plant.

In Cebu City, north district congressional candidate and Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos said the barangay will also switch off lights and electric appliances.

“Hopefully, this will get the children asking why we are doing it, and it’s already a good start in raising awareness, especially among the youth. If given the chance to serve as congresswoman, we will see to it that there will be more laws on environmental protection and that they are fully implemented,” she said.

Her rival Rachel “Cutie” del Mar is also encouraging the public to turn off lights at 7:59 p.m.

“Let’s not waste that one minute because even if a lot of people are saying that we can’t really help that much, I believe, if everybody helps in their own little way, that becomes a big help,” said.

Del Mar’s ally and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) vice mayoral candidate Joy Augustus Young said the party will not litter the streets with campaign materials. They’ll use less paper and recycled tarpaulin.

“(Mayoral candidate) Michael Rama and I will be prioritizing segregation and solid waste management. We want more pro-environment policies, such as the use of paper bags in the supermarkets,” he added.

Alvin Dizon, a BOPK candidate for councilor, said he will also prioritize solid waste management.

South district congressional candidate Jonathan Guardo of Kugi Uswag Sugbo-Nacionalista Party said his priority bill will be the creation of a third district composed of all the mountain barangays, to be called the eco-district.

“We will develop the mountain barangays in an environmentally sound way to make sure there are enough trees, the rivers are clean and there are no disruptions to food production,” Guardo said.

Talisay City officials agreed that City Hall and the 22 barangay halls will switch off lights for Earth Hour.

The City Council approved last Tuesday a resolution urging the public to practice energy-saving measures at least five days before the scheduled Earth Hour event.

The resolution was authored by Councilor Bernard Odilao, who is running for councilor.

Odilao said switching off the lights is the city’s effort to raise public awareness to conserve fuel and energy even if only for one hour.

But aside from the government, the private sector is also participating in Earth Hour.

Vice gubernatorial candidate Glenn Anthony Soco said he has been supportive of the Earth Hour program ever since it was launched.

He has instructed managers of Coffee Dream, the business Soco founded 13 years ago, to join Earth Hour. He has at least 32 outlets nationwide.

Once elected into office, Soco said he intends to have a provincial council tasked to manage environmental concerns.

Other provincial officials cannot join Earth Hour activities but said they have environmentally friendly programs as priorities.

Rep. Benhur Salimbangon said his project on “green energy” is ongoing. His aim is to plant jathropa, locally known as tuba-tuba, in over 10,000 hectares in the fourth district. Jathropa can be used as alternative fuel.

PB Member Juan Bolo said he will urge his constituents in the first district to plant more trees.

Samboan Mayor Raymond Calderon said he has asked the town residents to turn off their lights tonight. Ronda Vice Mayor Mariano Blanco III, for his part, said he will make policies addressing climate change.