Environmental activists called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to “walk the talk” by declaring a moratorium on all destructive mining, reclamation, power and infrastructure projects, and putting a stop to the killings of environmental defenders.
At least five national networks of environmental groups and science advocates made the call this week during the “Global Climate Strike” as world leaders discuss climate change at COP27, the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt this week.
“It is important for everyone to get on board in championing climate justice, from the president down to ordinary folk,” said Joshua Miranda, climate campaigns officer of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
“Everyone is affected by climate change. No one will be spared from its punitive impacts, including the death and terrible destruction brought by back-to-back storms and natural disasters,” he said.
Miranda said the “problem” is even if the president claims to champion the cause of climate justice, “he’s actually doing the opposite.”
“Marcos has the power to mitigate the effects of climate change by putting in place science-backed policies and projects,” said the climate activist.
Miranda said the president has the power to rescind the permits of destructive projects, including reclamation and big mining projects, “both of which science shows to bring irreparable environmental damages that are hardly commensurate to any benefits trickling down to Filipino communities.”
Miranda’s statement was supported by Chuckie Calsado, chairperson of the group Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.
“Empty rhetoric will not bring back the lives of those who were killed in climate-intensified disasters. Nor will it bring back the shattered livelihoods of many Filipinos,” said Calsado.
The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines Inc., meanwhile, highlighted the attacks on indigenous peoples and other environmental defenders in the country.
It said that the Philippines is “Asia’s most dangerous country for land and environmental defenders.” Until last year, it was also the world’s second deadliest country for defenders, outpaced only by Latin American countries, where the murders of defenders of the Amazon are rife, said the group.
Data provided by Kalikasan and the international watchdog Global Witness show that at least 300 environmental defenders were killed between 2001-2021.
Global Witness warned in its 2021 report that beyond killings, many defenders also experience attempts to silence them, with tactics like death threats, surveillance, sexual violence, or “criminalization.”