Church groups lead call for Marcos to declare ‘climate emergency’

April 21, 2023 - 12:29 PM
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Climate emergency_church groups
Caritas Philippines president Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo joins march to call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to declare a state of climate emergency, April 20, 2023. (Rona Ernas via CBCP News)

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 to hand over to Malacañang their petition to place the nation under such a state of emergency.

The march, however, failed to reach Mendiola after they were blocked by riot police at corner of Legarda and Figueras streets.

Some of their leaders were instead allowed to enter the Palace compound to formally submit their petition to the government.

Fr. 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,” 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.

Saying that climate change is becoming an existential issue globally, Columban lay missionary John Din stressed that all citizens should take action.

“Immediate actions to address the climate emergency should be our utmost concern,” said Din, who is also the national coordinator of Laudato Si Movement–Philippines.

Over 160 institutions — dioceses, schools, parishes, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations have already declared a climate emergency.

They have committed to take concrete steps to address it and challenge the government to do the same at this most critical time.

They also called on Marcos to urgently implement policies and programs that will address the root causes of climate change.

“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 Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.

“Likewise, we shall 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,” she added.

The declaration of climate emergency is a 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. — With reports from Arvie Poblete and Rona Ernas