There are those who claim to be environmental lawyers and then there is Wang Canfa who claims nothing but fairness for victims of environmental tyranny. One of the recipients of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awards is Chinese lawyer Wang Canfa, honored for upholding the rights of the poor against companies that devastate the environment. He is the founder of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, which gives free legal advice. Wang Canfa seems to be driven by a keen understanding of how pollution leads to loss of property and livelihood. This connection is extremely important, and I will go back to this later in the column.
Established in 1998, CLAPV is part of the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Its primary goal is to nudge government to enforce environmental laws (sounds terribly familiar). Wang Canfa said, "China has many laws and regulations regarding the environment, but the situation just gets worse because they are often not implemented." Wang Canfa is the perfect Magsaysay awardee then, for by his recognition we are reminded that the Philippine government has failed to enforce our primary environmental law, Republic Act 9003. Both former president Gloria Arroyo and current president Benigno Simeon Aquino are equally to blame.