MANILA, Philippines (December 7, 2020) — Representatives from affected communities, environmental groups, civil society and faith-based organizations demanded urgent and concrete actions from the government amid the declaration of a disaster and climate emergency in the country.
Last November 25, the House of Representatives approved its resolution HR No. 1377 declaring a climate emergency in the entire country.
In a press conference held on Monday, representatives of the said groups called for a more comprehensive and integrated approach in addressing the climate crisis, as the Philippines is among the most susceptible countries to hazards brought about by climate change. According to them, a mere declaration is not enough. They also doubted the sincerity of the government to address climate change given the severity of its impacts to communities as evidenced by typhoons that ravaged the country over the last decade and just recently, Typhoon Ulysses.
“While we welcome the resolution of the Lower House to declare Climate Emergency, we need genuine immediate and long term sustainable plans and decisive actions that are comprehensive in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change and disasters,” quipped Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina and convenor of Green Thumb Coalition. “The current behavior and practice of the Duterte administration is inconsistent with this House resolution, including the recommendation to open up more mines to recover from COVID19”, he added.
The groups said that the resolution should complement the environment and climate related bills of the 18th Congress to address climate change with a sense of urgency.
“Our lawmakers need to enact long-standing policies especially the pending Green Bills designed to make the environment and communities resilient to climate impacts and scrap all existing laws and programs that are responsible and have exacerbated climate impacts. Moreover, they should also stop the approval of funding dirty energy projects by corporations that greatly contribute to climate change which bring more serious health problems including cancer,” said Glenn Ymata of No Burn Pilipinas.
The groups added that burning of fossil fuels such as coal and waste-to-energy incineration, mining, quarrying, single use plastic are also contributors to the pollution problem, which is now threatening more the climate, environment, and public health.
“Burning oil, gas, coal, and waste endangers people’s health and causes global warming and climate change. We need urgent steps, not just a resolution, to give a more compelling basis for actions and response to climate related crises to empower local communities to protect themselves. We also encourage our government to safeguard our country’s lands from further misuse and degradation, “ said Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for People Coalition.
The groups also called on President Duterte to issue an Executive Order so that national agencies and LGUs are compelled to take actions with no delay including resource mobilization, proper allocation and prudent disposition of the same. This EO would also dictate immediate passage of many pending laws and ordinance such as the passage of the proposed National Land Use Act, the single-use plastic ban, and would eventually scrap dirty energy projects such as coal power plants and the bill on waste-to-energy incineration.
“Will this climate emergency declaration alleviate the helpless situation of those heavily affected from the series of 5 typhoons that happened three weeks ago? Will it save us from future impacts? Does the government know based on science what kind of catastrophic impact we are facing? What exactly does the government is trying to shield us from with this climate emergency declaration? This kind of expression will only redound again to mere rhetoric if funds and resources are not mobilized by the government to help in the climate proofing of the country. Not less than a multiple crises fund – covid, economic and climate – should readily be legislated and be made available to the people to make this resolution a sincere effort from the government.” stressed Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.
The groups added that corporations and policymakers should respect existing laws in the country such as the Clean Air Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act including the international Paris agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Respecting these laws and agreements will help cut down greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We cannot allow business as usual because absent sincere and concerted effort from the government and without genuine participation of the people, our fragile ecology will continue to suffer undue stresses by climate-induced catastrophes.” added Fr. Angel Cortez of Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement – Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines
“Expect more as we will be launching physical and virtual protest actions to make climate culprits accountable for climate induced impacts to communities. There will be petitions as well to counter the issuance of any laws, permits and certificates for the operation of mining, quarrying, single-use plastics, dirty energy facilities to prevent the effects of climate change aggravated by the burning of waste, coal and other fossil fuels,” Garganera ended.
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For more information, please contact:
Jaybee Garganera – 09175498218 / firstname.lastname@example.org