Green groups seek Duterte’s accountability over inaction on envi rights

Graphics by Aaron Macaraeg / Bulatlat


MANILA – Environmental groups Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) recently reported to the United Nations the “lack of action” of Rodrigo Duterte’s administration concerning environmental rights.

“Environmental rights are of utmost importance in the face of the climate crisis,” said Lia Mai Torres, speaker and executive director of CEC. She added that the lack of action every year can damage the environment and the people.

The Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that from 2010 to 2019, damages due to extreme natural events and disasters amounted to P463 billion ($8.2 billion). Agriculture took the hardest toll with 62.7 percent or P290 billion ($5.2 billion), and was viewed as the most vulnerable sector due to its dependency to weather, climate, and water. This was followed by infrastructure and private/communications with 23 percent or P106 billion ($1.9 billion) and 14.3 percent or P66 billion ($1.2 billion), respectively.

According to the November 2021 data from the Department of Finance, from 2010 to 2020, 98.2 percent or P506.1 billion ($10 billion) of losses and damages was due to climate-related hazards.

To mitigate the constant crisis, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and DENR, in the August 30 cabinet meeting with President Ferdinand Marxos Jr., proposed programs and projects to preserve, manage, and develop the country’s environment and natural resources.

“In the DOST, their priorities are creation of technology-based enterprises, jobs for regional development; food security and resilience; health security; water security and environmental protection; and energy,” Press Secretary Trixie-Cruz-Angeles revealed.

“In the plans of the DENR are enhancement of the natural capital accounting system including the valuation of ecosystem services; budget realignment and strategic collaboration with other NGAs (national government agencies), LGUs (local government units), private sector, academe, and other stakeholders; bolstering science and technology in environmental and natural resources management; improvement of sensor networks and analytics; and promoting green and blue jobs in environmental and natural resource management,” she added.

Environmental activists, however, disclosed before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) in Geneva last August 30, the violations of environmental rights that the Duterte’s administration left for the current administration to address.

Read: The Duterte era: A state of nature under attack

The groups denounced the lack of adeptness of Duterte’s measures for climate change, which led to unimaginable disaster in the country when typhoon Ulysses struck in 2020. Based on the groups’ report, the incident affected 3.67 million Filipinos and caused P10 billion in damages.

Environmental groups also mentioned and remembered their colleagues who were killed under Duterte’s term. According to Kalikasan PNE, 186 environmental defenders were killed in the six years that he was in office.

“The Duterte administration has left a legacy of environmental rights violations that we reckon with to this day,” said Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Read: Groups blame Duterte’s martial law for the deaths of 52 environmentalists

The groups agree that they’re unconvinced that justice will be served with the current administration of Marcos Jr., because he failed to provide importance by failing to highlight environmental rights or the continued attacks on environmental defenders in his 1st State of the Nation Address.

“We urge vigilance in monitoring the Marcos Jr. administration in its efforts, if any, to hold the Duterte administration accountable for its failures,” Bonifacio added. (RTS, JJE) (

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