People’s Rising for Climate Justice Philippines (PRCJ-PH), an umbrella network of environmental groups, marked the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) with a protest at the Mendiola Peace Arch in the capital Manila on Wednesday.
The demonstrators, including Typhoon Yolanda survivors, called for justice for the victims of the devastating typhoon and recent climate-related disasters while accusing the government of “criminal negligence.”
The protest included a performance art segment featuring “taong-putik,” people drenched in mud, symbolizing the hardship faced by communities, particularly in Eastern Visayas, after Typhoon Yolanda’s landfall in 2013.
“From Typhoon Yolanda(Haiyan) to Typhoon Goring (Saola), climate change has been relentless in its impacts on Filipinos,” said Jon Bonifacio, the national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
He said year after year, “we witness more severe typhoons and droughts affecting the country, exacerbated by the regressive policies of past and present administrations.”
The group underscored that despite the escalating impacts of climate change, the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has continued to pursue environmentally destructive projects that exacerbate the consequences of climate change for the Filipino people.
The group cited the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan and other reclamation projects as prime examples of such “destructive” projects.
Coinciding with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights Ian Fry’s ongoing country visit, the protesters called for a comprehensive investigation into the enduring effects of Typhoon Yolanda and other climate-related disasters by the UN team.
“With their investigation, we hope that the UN team can exert much-needed pressure on the Marcos Jr. administration to address climate change by repealing the ‘policies of plunder’ that worsen climate change impacts in our country,” said Clemente Bautista, spokesperson of UN watchdog Philippine UPR Watch.
“Policies like the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 provide the framework for the ongoing destruction under Marcos Jr.”
UN Special Rapporteur Ian Fry is scheduled to stay in the Philippines from November 6 to 15, during which he plans to visit Leyte and engage with communities directly affected by Typhoon Yolanda during his 10-day country visit.
According to the groups, the protest was held as a call for accountability and action on climate change issues that continue to plague the nation.