“The Aquino government is condemning us to a future of chronic extreme vulnerability to typhoons, storm surges, and other climate change-aggravated hazards failing in its mandates both in climate change adaptation and mitigation.” – Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE and 350.org Pilipinas
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA — Filipino activists and typhoon survivors joined Monday’s global “People’s Climate March” as they trooped to Mendiola Bridge “to give voice to the frontline communities most vulnerable to the worsening impacts of the climate crisis”.
The worldwide march is timed as leaders of different countries meet in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit, which is expected to come up with a pact addressing the rising greenhouse gas emissions. President Aquino is scheduled to speak in the summit today, Sept. 23 (Philippine time).
The Filipino marchers underscored the accountability of the Aquino government on the population’s vulnerability to disasters brought about by climate change, its neglect of typhoon victims and other internally-displaced persons, and its support for “dirty energy” such as coal.
“We highlight to the world the continuing injustices that ‘Yolanda’ victims face almost 11 months after the world’s strongest typhoon levelled Central Philippines,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and 350.org Pilipinas campaigner.
The marchers carried red, yellow and blue bands – the colors of the Philippine flag – and formed the word “justice” in front of the Mendiola Peace Arch.
The environmentalists were joined by members of the People Surge Alliance for Yolanda Victims, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham), and the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).
Similar other marches were conducted in Lucban in Quezon province, in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental in the Visayas, and in Davao City in Mindanao.
Leon said some leaders of the People Surge, scientists from Agham, indigenous peoples representing KAMP and the ILPS joined the march in New York City, along with other Filipino migrant activists.
Social media reported that in New York, a mammoth crowd of up to 300,000 had showed up to amp the pressure on world leaders to take concrete measures against climate change.
Dulce said they expect the Philippine president to deliver “hypocrisy and lies” about how the country is coping with disaster and climate change.
“The Aquino government is condemning us to a future of chronic extreme vulnerability to typhoons, storm surges, and other climate change-aggravated hazards failing in its mandates both in climate change adaptation and mitigation,” Dulce said.
He added: “Its dirty coal-intensive energy policy both worsens the vulnerability of our communities and allows foreign coal expansionism in our country. Pres. Aquino also continues to be silent in the need to hold accountable all imperialist polluter countries to the damages and losses caused by climate impacts to our people.”
The Mendiola marchers carried placards with the common heading “We stand with you,” followed with messages like “for people’s safety and environment,” “for justice and genuine recovery” and “for clean and nationalized energy.”
A placard in Filipino said, “Socialism is the solution to climate change.”
“We aim to expose the Aquino administration’s continuing denial of the miserable post-disaster situation brought about by their criminal neglect,” said Dulce. He added that the government’s disaster management policies were “reactive and corruption-prone,” resulting in the continuing suffering of disaster victims.
“Until now, hundreds of thousands of Haiayan and Zamboanga siege victims remain in dilapidated evacuation centers. Public infrastructures like hospitals and schools remain damaged and support services still lacking,” he said.
Dulce said that up to 10.8 million people in coastal areas are being threatened by the “No-Build Zone” policy imposed by government after typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the country in November 2013. He said that there remain at least 14,500 victims in the evacuation sites. More than 2,000 classrooms “remain unusable and over 17,000 remain in disrepair” in the typhoon-hit areas, he added.