‘The NTF-ELCAC should be disbanded’

“It is evident that the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is using its powers to protect key economic interests in the country. This has nothing to do with anti-terrorism or anti-communism. The military’s gross overreaction to people trying to defend their right to a safe, clean health and sustainable environment is totally unacceptable. The NTF-ELCAC should be disbanded.”—United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change Ian Fry

(Image by Jo Maois D. Mamangun)

Environmental group reports PH gov’t not acting on anti-climate change commitments

The year-old Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government continues to implement anti-environment projects that cause displacement and other disastrous impacts of climate change, an environmental group told the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) said large-scale mining, land reclamation and large dams being implemented under the Marcos government are causing ecological imbalance, weakening climate resilience in the Philippines.

In an interactive dialogue, CEC executive director Lia Mai Torres reported that such projects and policies are still in place despite the Philippine government’s declarations supportive of global climate change mitigation programs.

“Aside from the continuation of climate risk projects, Filipino environmental human rights defenders are not optimistic about the prospects of genuine climate action based on the principles of climate justice in the remaining five years of the Marcos Jr. administration, given the 12 cases of killings of environmental advocates and climate activists that have already occurred,” Torres said.

CEC’s intervention in the dialogue highlighted that “while important, addressing climate displacement should not preclude addressing the issues and vulnerabilities that cause displacement and other disastrous impacts of climate change.”

CEC reported that a Philippine government representative in the dialogue said that the Philippines’ disaster risk reduction and management favors interventions related to disaster displacement that are respectful of human rights.

CEC however belied the assertion, pointing out that there are no existing policy instruments in the Philippines, like many countries, that directly address climate change-induced migration.

“We are ill-equipped and poorly prepared to face internal migrations and disruptions due to climate change, much less the possible influx of climate refugees from neighboring countries.”

The dialogue entitled “Providing legal options to protect the human rights of persons displaced across international borders due to climate change” had UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change Ian Fry and Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions Morris Tindall-Binz in attendance.

The dialogue was an event in the ongoing 53rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in the Swiss city.

A report presented at the dialogue said that 38 million people worldwide have been displaced from their homes in 2021 while 22.3 million people were displaced by weather-related events in the same year.

Among the conclusions of the dialogue was that “the Paris Agreement should develop funding arrangements to assist persons displaced across international borders due to climate change to address their vulnerabilities.”

The CEC called on fellow Filipinos and the international community to keep a watchful eye on the Marcos Jr. administration and continue ensuring ecological balance is achieved by preventing environmentally damaging and destructive activities.

“[The Philippines must be] gearing away from false climate solutions, shifting away from the neoliberal model that facilitates the hyper-extraction by foreign interests of our natural resources, and addressing systematic inequality and poverty that strips away our capacity to adapt to climate disasters,” Torres said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Scientists urge greater support to poor sectors as UN warns of unprecedented global warming

Philippine scientists warn of greater natural disasters in the country as the United Nations (UN) reported unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate due to global warming.

The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) said poor Filipinos are in fact already suffering the most from the impact of global warming as the world dangerously approaches the Earth’s warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades.

In a reaction to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report by the UN, AGHAM said the Philippines is vulnerable to the effects of global warming that would mostly impact the poor.

“This IPCC report only echoes the problems a country like the Philippines is experiencing through stronger and more frequent typhoons, El Niños and La Niñas, worsening water and air quality, food insecurity, and more,” AGHAM chairperson Chuckie Calsado said.

Global scientists provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach, the IPPC said in its August 9 report.

“Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years,” the IPPC ‘s Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, said.

It was approved by IPPC’s 195 member governments of the IPCC including the Philippines.

The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.

The assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

Not just temperature

Climate change is not just about temperature, however, the IPPC said. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming.

These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans that are likely to:

  • Intensify the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Affect rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Induce sea level rise. Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Induce changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • Amplify aspect in cities, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

In its 2021 Global Climate Risk Index, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said developing countries are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change.

“They are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard but have lower coping capacity,” it said.

UN OCHA listed the Philippines as among three countries recurrently affected by catastrophes, continuously ranking with Haiti and Pakistan as among those most affected countries in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year (2019).

AGHAM said greater focus must be directed on how global warming impacts the lives lived by those directly affected by the worsening impacts of man-induced climate change.

“People living in areas that will be and are greatly affected by climate change are already living the impacts of climate change these past years,” Calsado said.

“The different data, the modeling, and different scientific analyses have forewarned us of these worsening scenarios but while the world debate on the recommendations of these studies the most vulnerable are already suffering the most,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

7M hectares of Philippine land are forested — and that’s bad news

The country has been vulnerable to massive flooding linked to deforestation. The coronavirus pandemic is also a catastrophe that arose from populations occupying wild animal habitats.

By Karol Ilagan/Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Key findings:

  • Forest loss persists in the Philippines even with a log ban and protection laws in place.
  • Forest cover has remained the same since the first Aquino administration as losses in some parts of the country have eclipsed gains in others. 
  • The Mimaropa region – covering Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan – has seen the worst deforestation in recent years.
  • The Duterte government excluded reforestation efforts among its commitments to mitigate climate change under the 2016 Paris Agreement.
  • Bills that are meant to address legal gaps in protecting forests are languishing in Congress. 

Mindoro is the seventh largest island of the Philippines. It sits at the bottom of Luzon, where the country’s capital is located, and stretches toward the northern tip of Sulu Sea. Large ships pass through its unpredictable waters, and on its seabed lie the wreckage of vessels that didn’t survive it. 

On land, a spine of mountains runs across its center. Its forests are home to the tamaraw, dwarf buffalos whose images once graced once-peso coins. They used to be widespread, but are now critically endangered.  

Land conversion has wiped out most of the habitat of the tamaraws. The lush expanse of forests where they liked to wallow in mud pits undisturbed have been flattened to make way for human settlements.

The same fate has befallen a species of pigeons called Mindoro bleeding-heart, named so because their breasts resemble a puncture wound with a blotch of orange at the center that deepens to dark red.

The rate of deforestation, which in turn drives the endangerment of species on the island, has been alarming, said ecologist Neil Aldrin Mallari, who studies the Mindoro bleeding-heart as president of the Center for Conservation Innovations.

The birds are also found on the islands of Negros, Panay, and Mindanao but the lowland forests where they used to live — the temperature there is right and fruits are aplenty — have drastically thinned through the years.

Mallari said the few remaining pigeons try to adapt, retreating to high altitudes where there are still trees to offer refuge. Those trees are their last stand. 

Mindoro lost more than 200,000 hectares of forest cover from 2003 to 2015. That’s about the size of land that 3,000 SM Mall of Asia complexes would cover if they stood side by side. The neighboring tourist haven of Palawan also lost nearly 30,000 hectares of forest land during the same period, based on government data. 

The losses of Mindoro and Palawan in terms of forest cover make Mimaropa the most deforested region in the Philippines, even if other islands in it such as Marinduque and Romblon had recorded some gains.

Mimaropa is also a microcosm of the state of forests in the country. Some provinces have successfully expanded their forest cover, but the gains were erased by consistent losses in others. 

A log ban and a number of laws have been in place for decades to restore the forests, but the absence of a coherent policy on forest management has resulted in various forms of land conversion that continue to drive deforestation at an alarming rate. 

The country’s forest cover is only about seven million hectares or 23% of the country’s total land area, based on official numbers, although experts are afraid that this number is overestimated. 

That’s a lot of forest lost from the early years of the Spanish colonial period, when forest cover was over 90%. The first Christian missionaries saw trees extending from the shores to the mountaintops, and likened the country to a paradise.

Abuses of the countrys’ forests eventually harmed the population. The massive floods brought by typhoons “Uring” (international name “Thema”) in Ormoc in 1991 and “Ondoy” (“Ketsana”) in Metro Manila in 2009 were just two of the disasters blamed on massive deforestation. Lush forests and watersheds could have held large amounts of rainwater that otherwise flowed into the communities, experts said.

The coronavirus pandemic that is taking its toll on the world — rich and poor countries alike — is also a stark reminder of a catastrophe that happens when populations occupy the habitats of wild animals. Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease that experts said likely jumped from a bat, then to another host species, before it infected humans.

It’s a cycle of tragedies where humans are both the culprits and the victims.

Mallari predicted that Mindoro’s bleeding-hearts would soon vanish. It’s time to think seriously about the impacts of human activities on nature, he said. 

“Extinction of species is not just about the cuddly animals,” he said. “We care because they are the building blocks of our ecosystem. ‘Pag nawala sila, wala rin tayo (If they are gone, so are we).”

The Philippines is one of the world’s very few mega-biodiverse countries and one of the most vulnerable to climate impacts. The stakes are higher for the country.

The vanishing Philippine forests: Extent of forest cover loss in the last century
Source: Dolom, 2006; Adopted from Environmental Science for Social Change (1999)
Courtesy of Dr. Neil Aldrin Mallari, Center for Conservation Innovations
Threatened and endemic species are retreating to mountains where forests offer refuge.
Source: Dr. Neil Aldrin Mallari, Center for Conservation Innovations

Dwindling forests

Forests made up 27.5 million hectares or 92% of the country’s total land area in the 16th century, when Spanish colonizers arrived. Forest cover dropped to 15.8 million hectares during the last years of the American occupation and to 10.6 million hectares just before the declaration of Martial Law.

It further shrank to 6.4 million hectares just after the 1986 People Power Revolution. Since then the country’s forest cover hovered at just under 7 million hectares on average.

The Americans systematized logging, which worsened during Martial Law when dictator Ferdinand Marcos rewarded relatives and cronies with Timber License Agreements (TLA). The country recorded one of the worst deforestation rates in the Asia and Pacific region during those years, losing 316,000 hectares of forest annually on average. The TLA holders did not adopt selective logging, a sustainable way of harvesting timber. They cleared forests, did not replant, and even went beyond their concession areas. 

Each administration drew up policies and programs to restore forests. Rehabilitation efforts have been in place since the 1910s, and there’s a long list of acronyms and agreements between and among national and local governments, communities living within and near forests, as well as the private sector. 

But these efforts were mired in allegations of mismanagement, corruption and power play.

Following the fall of the Marcos regime, the Cory Aquino government prioritized reforestation with support from bilateral partners and multilateral institutions. Timber exports were banned in 1992 and community-based approaches were introduced following the devastation brought by Typhoon “Uring,” whose heavy rains submerged Ormoc City and killed over 5,000 Filipinos. 

Jose Andres Canivel, executive director of the Forest Foundation, said massive deforestation stopped when the government halted the issuance of TLAs. No conclusive data was available, but the shift to Community-Based Forestry Management Agreements might have helped ease the pressure on forests, he said. It’s a tenurial instrument that allows qualified upland communities and people’s organizations to develop, utilize and manage portions of forest lands and resources. 

Forests recover if left alone, and conversion to agricultural land, timber poaching, and forest fires are stopped. They regenerate with the help of bats, birds, and other animals that disperse seeds, Canivel said. 

He cited areas in the Sierra Madre and Apayao, which were once logged over but now have closed-canopy forests. “Nag-logging d’yan, natigil (They used to log there), now the forest has taken it back,” he said.

The second Aquino government also embarked on a massive reforestation program, the National Greening Program, which aimed to double the country’s forest cover by 2028. Funded by taxpayers’ money, it sought to rehabilitate 7.1 million hectares of unproductive, denuded, and degraded forest lands. 

President Benigno Aquino III also banned logging across the country entirely, in the wake of severe floodings that also claimed many lives. Prior to the executive order, the impacts of Tropical Storm “Sendong” (“Washi”) in December 2010 and Typhoon “Ondoy” (“Ketsana”) in September 2009 were linked to deforestation. 

Despite these efforts, however, the country’s forest cover has not grown from 7 million hectares since the first Aquino administration. It hit a plateau because gains from restoration efforts in some parts of the country were erased by losses in others. 

The steady numbers betray the alarming rate of deforestation in many parts of the country, according to experts. The geographical breakdown of 12 years’ worth of data showed that half of all provinces registered losses totaling more than 154,000 hectares, based on the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority’s satellite survey.

The real situation is probably worse. Canivel said satellite imagery should be verified on the ground because plantations might have also been scanned. Many forests had been cleared to make way for plantations, which did not count as forests, he said. For instance, forests in the Caraga region had been planted with timber, and in Palawan, oil palm.
Samson Pedragosa, Haribon Foundation advocacy officer, also questioned liberal definitions of forests adopted by the Philippines. A half-hectare land with a tree canopy cover of more than 10% is considered a forest, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Mallari said this global definition did not quite match the characteristics of tropical rainforests, which should be dense and diverse. An increase in forest cover might not necessarily be due to growing trees, but because of the way forests were redefined, he said.

Philippine forests are also defined by their physical attributes – more than 1,000 meters above sea level and/or with an 18% slope – rather than their ecological function, Mallari said.

PCIJ requested an interview with the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) to verify the data it had provided as well as understand the country’s forest management strategy. The FMB acknowledged PCIJ’s letter, but could not respond to questions as of writing.

Global Forest Watch (GFW), a US-based monitor of global forests, has an alternate barometer of annual forest loss showing that more than 7,700 hectares of forest cover, equivalent to nearly 20 basketball courts, were lost every hour in the Philippines last year.

This adds up to an area the size of Iloilo City in over a year. The loss was 2% higher in 2020, mirroring the global trend. Last year, forest destruction increased 12% worldwide. 

GFW also uses satellite imagery to measure deforestation, but its data cannot be compared with FMB’s. The former monitors not just forest loss, but all other indicators of deforestation, like tree loss, tree gain, and fire alerts.

From 2002 to 2020, the country recorded 150,813 hectares of primary forest loss, GFW data also showed.

Alarming rates of deforestation are happening worldwide. GFW recorded 4.2 million hectares of forest loss, an area the size of the Netherlands, occurring within tropical primary forests around the globe. Some progress, however, has been recorded in Southeast Asia as forest losses in Indonesia and Malaysia have declined for the fourth year in a row in 2020.

Read about Malaysia’s declining forest loss by Rainforest Investigations Network fellow Yao Hua Law of Macaranga.

Greening Program

The Duterte government continued Aquino’s reforestation program. The Enhanced National Greening Program (E-NGP) seeks to rehabilitate 1.2 million hectares of denuded forest lands before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022. 

More than 1.74 billion seedlings have been planted from 2011 to 2020 in more than 2 million hectares of land area, FMB records showed. The program likewise generated more than five million jobs.

The E-NGP is among the programs designed to achieve the country’s REDD+ objective – results-based climate change mitigation strategy – under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “REDD” stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” The plus sign represents the expansion of its focus to the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

The Philippines drew up its National REDD+ Strategy in 2010 but an update published by the FMB in June 2017 showed that the country was still in the “readiness phase” and taking “readiness steps” to establish demonstration sites, as well as  undertaking studies to implement it. 

FAO’s 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment ranked the Philippines as fifth among 234 countries with the greatest reported gain in forest area annually from 2010 to 2015. The FMB attributed it to the then four-year-old National Greening Program.

Researchers have raised red flags on the implementation of the program. In 2019, the Commission on Audit (COA) found several issues with the DENR’s fast-tracking of the program as it led to the imposition of targets beyond the capacities of officials; the lack of survey, mapping, and planning; and the inclusion of far untenured areas, which will be abandoned after the term of the maintenance and protection contract, among others.

“Instead of increasing forest cover, fast-tracking reforestation activities only increased the incidences of wastage,” the COA said.

State think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies found that the survival rate of the trees planted under the NGP stood at just 61% in 2016 or below the 85% goal.

Moreover, University of the Philippines researchers found that forest cover loss in three sites in the Sierra Madre mountain range declined from 2011 to 2015 but increased from 2016 to 2018. Using satellite data, the study found that the net effect was a balance of reforestation and deforestation, or no significant gain.

Mallari, Canivel, Pedragosa and former environment undersecretary Antonio La Viña all raised concerns over the implementation of the NGP and the E-NGP. They said the efforts to protect the seedlings, the kinds of trees planted, and where the trees were planted needed to be scrutinized. 

GFW data from 2002 to 2020 even showed that forest loss in the Philippines had reached a record high during the Duterte administration. The country lost more than 10,000 hectares of primary forest on average every year during his term. This was higher than the annual averages during the terms of Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III. 

In a span of 18 years, forest loss reached its peak in 2017 during Duterte’s second year in office. The decline continued in the following years although the figures remained within the annual average of about 8,000 hectares.

Pockets of success, however, can be found in rehabilitation efforts done by nongovernment organizations, community groups and the private sector in areas such as the Ipo Watershed, Upper Marikina Watershed, and the Masungi Georeserve. At the center of these efforts are the communities that live in or near the forests.

Forests and climate change

The Duterte government excluded reforestation efforts from its list of commitments under the 2016 Paris Agreement to mitigate climate change. Instead, it was included among adaptation measures, in which Manila pledged to “pursue forest protection, forest restoration and reforestation, and access to results-based finance in forest conservation.”

Mitigation is aimed at addressing and minimizing the causes of climate change, while adaptation is focused on reducing its impacts. 

This was curious, according to La Viña, also a former climate change negotiator for the Philippines, and Ian Rivera, coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

La Viña said he was still studying why the government did not include forests to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in its list of commitments. The sectors included in the country’s mitigation efforts are “agriculture, wastes, industry, transport, and energy.”

Loss of forests is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. At least 20% of global emissions come from deforestation. Addressing the problem is crucial to avoiding the dangerous impacts of climate change.

“We should be looking at enhancement so we can go back to at least 10 million (hectares), for instance,” said La Viña.

Neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia are good examples as they have placed forests front and center to mitigate emissions. Indonesia imposed a moratorium on the clearing of primary forests, prohibited the conversion of remaining forests, and adopted sustainable forest management measures. Malaysia committed to conserve its Central Forest Spine, which supplies 90% of its water, and the 220,000-square-kilometer “Heart of Borneo,” said to be Asia’s last great rainforest.
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty that aims to avert climate catastrophe. A total of 196 parties were expected to submit action plans last year.  The commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are detailed in documents called nationally determined contributions or NDC.

financial mechanism was also established, in which high-emitting developed countries provide funds to less industrialized countries. This will help developing countries like the Philippines, which emitted an average of 1.98 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 2020 or about half of the global average of four metric tons, bear the brunt of climate change.

Duterte initially aired his misgivings about the Paris climate agreement, questioning how developed countries had dictated the terms of the collective fund that would be used to help developing countries achieve climate goals. He eventually signed it in March 2017.

Based on the NDC it submitted to the UNFCCC on April 15, 2021, the Philippines is targeting to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75% by 2030. Accomplishing 72.29% of this goal depended on funding and assistance from the international community, based on its report to the UNFCCC on April 15, 2021. 

No greenlight for the ‘green bills’

Just maintaining the country’s forest cover is not enough, said La Viña, who is now executive director of the Manila Observatory, a scientific research center. “[There’s] no major initiative or nothing significantly negative comes to mind,” he said.  

He said proper management of the country’s forests is key, but laws that seek to do this have been languishing in Congress. 

The country’s primary forest code is a Martial Law-era presidential decree that essentially promotes commercial logging, La Viña said. Although P.D. 705 has since been modified with the passage of the National Integrated Protected Area System in 1992 and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act in 1997, a different law is needed to set the criteria on how forest resources should be managed and utilized, he said. 

“There’s no criteria when you can cut or not because we’re still using the old forestry code,” La Viña said. 

Canivel said P.D. 705 promised an industrialization scheme where forests would contribute to the economy, but this didn’t happen. He made the same call to pass “green bills” pending in Congress. The log ban that Aquino issued in 2011 is only an executive order.

Experts have identified at least three urgent “green” bills – the National Land Use Act (NLUA), the Sustainable Forest Management Act (SMFA), and the Alternative Minerals Management Act (AMMA). 

Passage of the NLUA is needed to delineate forest boundaries and protect them. Land conversions are the main threats to forests, said Haribon’s Pedragosa. 

“Hindi pwedeng gamitin sa agriculture. Hindi pwede gamitin sa iba pang uses kung hindi forest lang talaga (It cannot be used for agriculture. It cannot be used for other purposes but it’s supposed to be just for forests),” he said. 

The SMFA is needed to set criteria for allowing logging, and settle debates on whether or not the government should allow selective logging or commercial logging. It should not be preoccupied with issuing timber-cutting or tree-cutting permits, and should set aside areas for conservation and management, restoration, and sustainable use, Canivel said.

“The new law has to be mindful of what we need to protect, what we need to restore and what we need to allow,” he said. 

Intended to replace the Mining Act of 1995, the AMMA seeks to ban extraction in environmentally critical areas such as small-island ecosystems and primary and secondary forests and watersheds. It also seeks to prohibit dumping of mine wastes into water systems.

All these laws are urgent, said Canivel. “We are faced with different realities. We understand forests better now. We certainly need a new policy framework.” FIN

This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network (RIN). 
To learn more about forest stories across the globe, visit the RIN fellows’ page here.
Infographics: Joseph Luigi Almuena

Chricelyn Empong, ang Lumad na Greta Thunberg

Tampok ngayon ang isang 16 taong gulang na climate activist na si Greta Thunberg mula sa Sweden. Ito ay dahil sa kanyang matatapang na mga pahayag hinggil sa lumalalang problema dulot ng pagbabago ng klima o climate change. Giit ng dalaga na dapat ay agarang kumilos ang iba’t ibang lider sa buong mundo upang solusyunan ang nagbabadyang tuluyang pagkasira ng ating kalikasan.

Dito sa Pilipinas, nananawagan din ang mga kabataang Lumad na protektahan ang lupang ninuno at ang kalikasan.

Isa si Chricelyn Empong sa marami pang estudyanteng lumad na napilitang mag-bakwit dito sa Maynila dahil pagpapasara ng gobyerno sa kanilang mga paaralan. Tulad ni Greta, naninindigan din si Chricelyn na dapat lamang na kumilos at lumaban hinggil sa pangangalaga sa ating kalikasan.

“Buhay ng buong mundo ang nakasalalay sa aming pagkilos ngayon. Hindi namin kailanman tatalikuran ang susunod na henerasyon gaya ng pagtalikod ng gobyernong Duterte,” pahayag ni Chricelyn.

Sa ngayon, nagaganap ang isang Global Climate Strike kung saan kabilang si Greta at ang mga kabataan lumad. Nagsimula ito noong Setyembre 20 at magpapatuloy hanggang Setyembre 27. Hinihikayat nito ang lahat na sumama sa mga kilos protesta upang igiit ang hustisya para sa ating kalikasan. Ito rin ay para itulak ang iba’t ibang pulitiko na magsagawa ng mga solusyon upang mapangalagaan ang kalikasan. (Video ni Jo Maline Mamangun/Kodao)

A snapshot of climate strikes across Southeast Asia


By Mong Palatino

Filipino protesters in a human-Earth formation. Source: Facebook page of Scientia

Several actions were organized across Southeast Asia from 20 to 22 September 2019 in support of the Global Climate Strike. One of the aims of the global strike was to mobilize young people and put pressure on world leaders who were scheduled to meet at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

The protest actions in Southeast Asia highlighted various issues such as the impact of large-scale mining, haze pollution, and continuing dependence on fossil fuels. Like in other parts of the world, the climate strikes in Southeast Asia featured the active participation and leadership of young people.

Below is an overview of protest activities across Southeast Asia:

Myanmar protesters demand the declaration of a climate emergency

More than 200 people marched from the new Bogyoke Market to Sule Pagoda, and then gathered outside Mahabandoola Park in Yangon on 21 September. They urged the Myanmar government to declare a climate emergency, impose a moratorium on projects that harm the environment, and promote environmental justice.

Young environmentalists joined the protest in Yangon. Source: Facebook page of Climate Strike Myanmar

Filipino activists call for climate justice

More than 600 young environmentalists in Manila participated in a human-Earth formation while carrying placards that call for climate justice on 20 September. They denounced the rising number of extrajudicial killings targeting environmental defenders and land rights activists under the government of President Rodrigo Duterte who came to power in 2016.

Thailand asked to stop building coal plants

More than 150 young environmentalists held a die-in protest in front of Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on 20 September. They submitted a petition asking the government to phase out coal and transition to renewable energy. A government official received the letter and lauded the concern of young people for the environment.

Young environmentalists rally in front of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Source: Facebook page of Climate Strike Thailand

Malaysia pressed to act against haze pollution

More than 300 people joined the protest organized by Klima Action Malaysia on 21 September. They linked the worsening haze pollution to the climate crisis and asked the government to probe companies responsible for financing the deforestation of lands in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Stop forest fires in Indonesia

Reports indicated that more than a thousand young people marched in Jakarta on 20 September. They criticized the failure of the government to stop the forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan which caused massive haze pollution not just in Indonesia but also in Malaysia and Singapore. The expansion of plantations and illegal land conversions are blamed for the raging forest fires in the country.

Singapore told to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Singapore had a large turnout during its climate strike on 21 September at Hong Lim Park. An estimated two thousand people joined the action calling the government to decarbonize the economy and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Participants wore red to symbolize the climate emergency we are facing today.

Vietnamese activists defy risks and hold protest in Ho Chi Minh City

And finally, in Vietnam, environmental activists organized a climate protest in Ho Chi Minh City despite the political risk of such an action.

(This article was first published by Global Voices, an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists. It is republished by Kodao as part of a content sharing agreement.)

Veteran disaster responder Carlos Padolina dies in road accident

Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) official and veteran disaster responder Carlos Padolina died in a road accident Friday night in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

Padolina, DSWD Climate Adaptation and Mitigation deputy program director, died after a motorcycle hit the tricycle he was riding at about midnight, a colleague told Kodao.

In a Facebook post, Padolina’s colleague Caroline Quevedo Catalan said it was a “sudden death.”

“After our orientation, he requested that we bring him to the bus terminal (bound) for Cagayan de Oro…By 11 pm, he took the tricycle from Balingasag area to (the) terminal and then they were hit by a drag-racing motorcycle that was without a headlight,” Catalan wrote.

Padolina was reportedly thrown off the sidecar and suffered massive internal haemorrhage that led to his death.

Padolina was in Mindanao to hold a program orientation with Caraga local government units and people’s organizations in Butuan City.

From Butuan, Padolina dropped by Balingasag to meet with other disaster response colleagues.

Padolina joined the DSWD in September 2016 after decades of disaster preparedness and response work with the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center and children’s rights advocacy with the Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Salinlahi.

(Photo from Padolina’s FB page)

The first major disaster response he participated with DSWD was supertyphoon Lawin that hit Northern Luzon in 2016 while among his last was Mount Mayon’s eruption earlier this year.

Before joining DSWD, Padolina spearheaded numerous relief and rehabilitation programs across the Philippines for nearly three decades.

He was reportedly planning to go back to CDRC after nearly two years with the DSWD.

The victim’s family has already been notified of his death, the source said.

The DSWD is planning to hold a tribute to Padolina during its flag-raising ceremony on Monday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UP professor reveals harassment of farmers in Kidapawan

University of the Philippines Professor Gerardo Lanuza reveals in a press conference the continuing harassment victims of the April 1 Kidapawan shooting suffer.

Lanuza participated in a fact-finding mission to Kidapawan a few days after the incident. He was assigned to interview four injured farmers, but was prevented by the presence of four soldiers armed with assault rifles inside a local hospital.

In this video, Lanuza enumerates the various ways in which the police and the Philippine Army make injured farmer Christopher Lumandang suffer even further.

(Featured image of Christopher Lumandang by Kilab Multimedia)