February 23, 2024

 The social arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has joined the call for the government to declare a climate emergency.

Fr. Antonio Labiao, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, said they call on the government to take action on how to address the effects of climate change.

“We are calling for a swift transition to a low-carbon economy, the protection of natural habitats and ecosystems, the adoption of just, pro-people, and sustainable economic development practices across all sectors,” Labiao said in a statement issued in line with the celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

“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,” the Catholic priest added.

The appeal was also supported by the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Health Care and CBCP-Office on Women, Council of the Laity of the Philippines, social action centers of dioceses and vicariates, Caritas offices, and Catholic schools.

Different climate advocates on April 21 marched to the Mendiola Peace Arch and asked President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to declare a climate emergency.

The groups claimed with climate change becoming increasingly evident through extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and the loss of biodiversity, there is an urgency to act on the ongoing climate crisis.

“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, member of the Rights of Nature (RoN) PH Steering Committee.

The groups also called on the government to “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 is put in place to address climate change impacts.”

“All citizens should take action. Climate change is becoming an existential issue globally. Pope Francis calls on all peoples to an ecological conversion. Immediate actions to address the climate emergency should be our utmost concern,” said John Din of Columban Missionaries and National Coordinator of Laudato Si Movement.

The RoN PH with other civil society groups initiated the Citizen’s Declaration of Climate Emergency, a year-long campaign to mobilize Filipinos in addressing climate crisis, highlighting the responsibility and accountability of government leaders and duty bearers to respond to the crisis but also doing their share to protect the environment. PNA