#HumanRights #ClimateEmergency Philippine Movement for Climate Justice to Philippine Government: Declare a Climate Emergency Now!
With just mere days in between, the Philippines was struck by several strong typhoons–Typhoon Molave (Typhoon Quinta), Typhoon Goni (Typhoon Rolly), dubbed as “the strongest typhoon of 2020,” and Typhoon Vamco (Typhoon Ulysses). Together with Typhoons Siony and Tonyo, the series of five typhoons has been unprecedented as devastations already covered six regions in the whole island of Luzon. The scope and coverage are almost equal to Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.
Sixteen people have died in the devastation following Rolly, and 37 people have died in the floods and heavy winds carried by Ulysses–both storms affecting almost millions of families, communities. Just in Bataan alone, a whopping 89 million pesos worth of damages for agriculture and 24 schools rendered unusable. While data has still to be aggregated for these 4th quarter typhoons – data for the two typhoons, Rolly and Ulysses already have a combined Php 19.2 Billion of damages in agriculture and Infrastructures as of November 14. In its aftermath, Typhoon Ulysses has sunk the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, as residents are bracing for more floods when massive water will be released from Magat Dam.
These scales of destruction and deaths could have been avoided knowing the Philippine record and experiences with strong typhoons and climate impacts. However, the Philippine government never learns from the past as scales of destruction and deaths have never been avoided or minimized. As strong weather events have battered the country, typhoons are not only the killers but also flooding and landslide, which accompany them. Destruction and death would not have been worse if the government’s readiness is at the scale of the understanding of the science of climate impacts and its seriousness in the protection of watersheds, ecological recovery of river basins, and the termination of all destructive activities. Mining, quarrying, property development in protected watershed areas, and constructing large dams destroy the watersheds’ ecological purpose. The flooding of Marikina, Isabela, Cagayan, and the towns of Infanta and Nakar in Quezon province are prime examples of the continuing policy mistakes the government refuses to rectify. While it is not yet late, the government must stop its plan to construct the Centennial Kaliwa Dam Project and all other major dams in the pipeline.
For years, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice has been calling for the government to declare a climate emergency and has repeatedly warned about the impacts of the climate crisis. Still, these have never get traction within the Duterte Administration. The senseless neglect of the calls for urgent climate action in the governance finds the Duterte Government itself in a cyclical pattern of abandonment of its obligation, which ultimately points to the denial of climate deaths and destruction worldwide and dismissive of science.
With two remaining years of its administration, PMCJ challenges President Duterte to place climate action at the center of its government’s policy by declaring a climate emergency, allocate funds for adaptation, address past climate impacts, and lead and prepare the Filipino people in building safe, sustainable, resilient communities. PMCJ likewise demands accountability on the Duterte administration for its failure to prepare and anticipate these impacts as these are already qualified and known and for putting the lives of the people at risk. It is about time that the people demand justiciability not just for those governments responsible for global warming but also for the Philippine government’s failure to address past and current impacts and prepare the country for the climate crisis.
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