A group of environmental activists rebuked the Philippine government for its “empty climate rhetoric,” saying it should undertake concrete climate actions.
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the government should provide protection for environmental defenders and hold climate polluters accountable for “destructive acts.”
The green group’s statement came on the heels of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on the Philippine government’s fifth periodic report on the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Human Rights Committee released its concluding observations on October 28, 2022.
The release of the report coincided with the opening of the 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The government should immediately heed the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee to strengthen the Philippine legal framework on climate change and enact laws that will hold climate polluters accountable for their pollutive acts,” said Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE’s International Networks Coordinator.
“The concluding observations made by the Committee on the fifth periodic report are timely and appropriate,” said Clemente, adding that it echos the reality of “continuing human rights violations, injustice and climate inaction happening in the country.”
In its observations, the Human Rights Committee highlighted the lack of information on measures taken by the government to implement actions to address climate change impacts on human rights and the role of business corporations in climate pollution.
Bautista said the Human Rights Committee is “on point in its declaration that the Philippine government failed to provide information to show that there is an improvement in the country’s civil and political rights situation.”
He noted that under the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, “environmental, climate and human rights defenders alike continue to be red-tagged, harassed, illegally detained or worse, killed.”
In its observation, the Committee noted with concern documented reports of the militarization of indigenous people’s communities, and the continued killings of land and environment rights defenders.
It took special notice of the killings of nine Tumandok activists in a joint police and military operation in December 2020, the murder of tribal leader Datu Victor Danyan in December 2017, and the fatal shooting of land reform advocate Nora Apique in March 2020 by unidentified assailants suspected to be state agents.
“Environmental defenders are on the frontlines of protecting our environment and conserving our biodiversity and natural resources. Sadly, they continued to be the targeted victims of human rights violations,” said Bautista.
He challenged the Marcos administration “to reverse its policies of climate inaction and injustice.”
“President Marcos Jr. should lessen the insecurities of our environmental and climate defenders by imposing a moratorium on big mining and reclamation projects, all of which are inherently environmentally destructive,” said Bautista.
“He should also implement a just and clean energy transition, and prioritize the enactment of the Environment Defenders Bill, which protects the defenders of our national environment,” he added.