Several Catholic organizations submitted a petition urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to recognize the country’s urgent situation and declare a climate emergency.
Various climate activists marched in Manila on Thursday, April 20, to hand over to Malacañang their petition to place the nation under such a state of emergency.
Father Tony Labiao, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, said they want “a swift transition to a low-carbon economy, the protection of natural habitats and ecosystems, and the adoption of just, pro-people, and sustainable economic development practices across all sectors.”
“We invite everyone to join us calling-out our leaders and to raise our voices for the dignity of our common home and for our future generations,” Father Labiao said.
According to them, the declaration of a climate emergency would signal that the government acknowledges the gravity of the situation and is willing to take bold action to mitigate its effects.
Among those who attended the rally were Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines, a number of religious missionaries, and representatives of various civil society organizations.
“We are declaring that we are now in a state of climate emergency and we commit to do sustained and bold actions to help slow down environmental deterioration, with sustained regenerative actions to restore ecological balance,” said Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., a network of more than 250 social development and advocacy groups and Church groups.
She said they will challenge the government to declare a climate emergency “and take the lead in fulfilling its mandate to protect the well-being of both nature and people, ensuring that a clear and comprehensive plan containing strategic and urgent actions are put in place to address climate change impacts.”
Over 160 institutions — dioceses, schools, parishes, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations — have already declared climate emergency, said Esguerra.
The Citizen’s Declaration of Climate Emergency is a year long campaign initiated by the Rights of Nature PH with other civil society groups to mobilize Filipinos to an “all of nation approach” in addressing the climate crisis.
“The most marginalized people and poorest countries will be the first victims of the impacts of climate changes,” warned climate justice activist Ian Rivera from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.
“Already we are experiencing disasters that have resulted in further impoverishment of our people,” he said, adding that government leaders “need to exact justice from countries which are the major culprit of global warming.”
“We can’t afford to do nothing in the midst of the impending biodiversity collapse,” said Rivera.
John Din of the Columban Missionaries and national coordinator of the Laudato Si Movement said Pope Francis has called on all peoples to an “ecological conversion.” – with a report from CBCP News