BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – As the Durban climate summit enters its second week, Filipino activists here have launched a five-day Climate Justice caravan to heighten the awareness of people in climate impact prone areas and help prepare local government officials in designing their respective action plans as mandated in the Climate Change Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9729, yesterday.
Led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), the caravan, dubbed as “Lakbay Klima: Pagkilos Tungo sa Hustisya sa Klima,” will pass through the parts of the north and central part of Luzon such as Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan until it goes back to Manila. Forums will be set up to highlight the plight and struggles of the community on the effects of climate change and other issues in their communities and find a connection with the international climate deals.
“As shown by many studies, the Philippines is one of the most affected and devastated by the effects of climate change. We, together with other developing countries, are the least responsible for the climate crisis, yet we suffer its worst effects and have limited financial and technological means to respond,” said Milo Tanchuling, PMCJ lead convenor.
The people in these areas have a role in building the climate justice movement locally as communities and in crafting their own respective Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP), according to PMCJ.
It is essential for affected and vulnerable communities and the whole nation to understand the true nature of the issue that they are facing to give everyone a clear picture of what they can do to combat climate change, the group added.
“For a country highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, we should not just let the politicians alone decide our fate. We need to get involved,” stressed Tanchuling.
After formally launching the caravan in Isabela City yesterday, local leaders and representatives of people’s organization and indigenous peoples in Nueva Vizcaya attended the first leg of the caravan and led the call for government to take urgent actions in addressing life-threatening problems brought by climate change and to strengthen their efforts in protecting the remaining forests in the country.
Fidel Esteban Opay, a barangay councilor, said that unpredictable state of weather they experience in their province had a direct impact in agriculture and their livelihood. “Farmers are now having difficulties in determining the appropriate time for planting. Heavy rains destroy our plants that sometimes are already prepared for harvest,” Opay recounted.
The groups said that if measures will not be taken immediately, they foresee worse scenarios in the future like the heavy flood they experienced during the Typhoon Quiel on October 2011.
They also reaffirmed their call for the closure of the mining operations in their province that only aggregates the difficulties they are currently facing due mainly to the environmental destructions created by the mining activities and the related incidence of human rights violation to the communities and IP groups.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and a member of PMCJ coordinating committee, called on the local government officials to stop the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.
PMCJ will cap the activity in Manila on December 9. -30-